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A new technique allows researchers to focus the action of drugs via infrared light

By 4 de March de 2019No Comments
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Control of the activity of individual worm neurons through two-photon stimulation (Figure: Montserrat Porta, Aida Garrido).

A new technique allows researchers to focus the action of drugs via infrared light

A scientific team led by the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), based at the Barcelona Science Park, and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)manages to efficiently activate molecules located inside cell tissues using two-photon excitation of with infrared light lasers. The study has recently been published in the journal Nature Communications.


Having absolute control of the activity of a molecule in an organism. Deciding when, where and how a drug is activated. These are some of the goals expected to be reached with the so-called photoswitchable molecules, compounds that, in the presence of certain light waves, change their properties. Today, thanks to the results of a study led by IBEC together with UAB, the scientific community is one step closer to achieving this objective.

Using pulsed infrared light lasers, scientists have managed, for the first time, to activate molecules located inside neural tissue, with an efficiency of almost 100%. ‘It’s a development that opens the door to a large number of applications. From drugs that only act at the point of our body that is illuminated and are therefore free from unwanted side-effects in other regions, to the spatial and temporal control of any protein whose function we want to study in the context of an organism’, says Pau Gorostiza, ICREA research professor and head of the Nanoprobes and Nanoswitches Group at IBEC. 

► Reference article: Gisela Cabré, Aida Garrido-Charles, Miquel Moreno, Miquel Bosch, Montserrat Porta-de-la-Riva, Michael Krieg, Marta Gascón-Moya, Núria Camarero, Ricard Gelabert, José M. Lluch, Félix Busqué, Jordi Hernando, Pau Gorostiza & Ramon Alibés. “Rationally designed azobenzene photoswitches for efficient two-photon neuronal excitation“. Nature Communications volume 10, Article number: 907 (2019).

More information: IBEC website [+]