Optogenetics allows rapid, temporally specific control of neuronal activity by targeted expression and activation of light-sensitive proteins. Implementation typically requires remote light sources and fiber-optic delivery schemes that impose considerable physical constraints on natural behaviors. In this report we bypass these limitations using technologies that combine thin, mechanically soft neural interfaces with fully implantable, stretchable wireless radio power and control systems. The resulting devices achieve optogenetic modulation of the spinal cord and peripheral nervous system. This is demonstrated with two form factors; stretchable film appliqués that interface directly with peripheral nerves, and flexible filaments that insert into the narrow confines of the spinal epidural space. These soft, thin devices are minimally invasive, and histological tests suggest they can be used in chronic studies. We demonstrate the power of this technology by modulating peripheral and spinal pain circuitry, providing evidence for the potential widespread use of these devices in research and future clinical applications of optogenetics outside the brain.
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This work was supported by a US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's Transformative Research Award (NS081707) to R.W.G., J.A.R. and M.R.B. D.S.B. was supported by an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein F31 Predoctoral Fellowship (1F31NS078852). C.D.M. was supported by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Medical Research Fellowship. B.A.C. was supported by a W.M. Keck Fellowship in Molecular Medicine and TR32 GM108539. M.Y.P. was supported by T32 GM007067. S.D. was supported by NS076324. Illustrations created by J. Sinn-Hanlon and P. Focken, University of Illinois. The authors appreciate the gifts of heterozygous SNS-cre mice from R. Kuner (University of Heidelberg), heterozygous TrpV1-cre mice from M. Hoon (NIH/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research) and heterozygous Advillin-cre mice from F. Wang (Duke University). We would also like to think R.E. Schmidt for the expertise he provided in neuropathological examination of tissue.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Park, S., Brenner, D., Shin, G. et al. Soft, stretchable, fully implantable miniaturized optoelectronic systems for wireless optogenetics. Nat Biotechnol 33, 1280–1286 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt.3415
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