New technology using luminopsins to treat motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease

Luisa Lopes


    Luisa Lopes


    Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes, Portugal


    High-frequency deep brain stimulation has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. However, this technique has some limitations. Due to the lack of precise control over the electric current, the stimulation is not specific; in addition, it requires the permanent implantation of an electronic device.

    Optogenetic stimulation is an innovative technique that uses light to selectively modulate the activity of a neuronal population, genetically modified to express a light-sensitive membrane protein called opsin. This technique has been used to improve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease in rodents and primates, but presents some limitations that hinder its translation to the clinic. Recently, a new optogenetic technology has emerged using luminopsins that can create their own light and self-stimulate without the need for implanted material. This project aims to test this new technology, which combines bioluminescent optogenetics with selective neuronal stimulation to achieve safer and less invasive treatment of Parkinson's disease symptoms.

    The team will conduct a pilot study using an experimental mouse model of Parkinson's disease. To test the feasibility and safety of the new technique, the team members are developing a viral vector through which they can genetically engineer specific subpopulations of neurons that will express luminopsins in a controlled area of the brain and generate their own light following intravenous administration of a drug. If successful, this pilot will serve as a proof of concept for possible translation to non-human primates and, in later stages, to humans. This new technique, which does not require implants, has the potential to be used as a treatment for chronic stimulation in various regions of the brain, making it a promising solution for treating the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.


    Luminopsins in Parkinson’s disease stimulation


    Stage 1