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Indian-American scientist uses sound waves to control brain cells

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photo credit: www.biosciencetechnology.com

Washington: Indian-American researcher Sreekanth Chalasani, from Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California has developed a new way to selectively activate brain, heart, muscle and other cells using ultrasonic sound waves.

photo credit: www.ndtv.com
photo credit: www.ndtv.com

Dubbed as sonogenetics, the new technique has some similarities to the burgeoning use of light to activate brain cells in order to better understand the brain.

“Light-based techniques are great for some uses. But this is a new, additional tool to manipulate neurons and other cells in the body,” informed Sreekanth Chalasani, assistant professor in Salk’s molecular neurobiology laboratory.

The new method – which uses the same type of waves used in medical sonograms – may have advantages over the light-based approach – known as optogenetics – particularly when it comes to adapting the technology to human therapeutics.

In optogenetics, researchers add light-sensitive channel proteins to neurons they wish to study.

By shining a focused laser on the cells, they can selectively open these channels, either activating or silencing the target neurons.

Chalasani and his group decided to see if they could develop an approach that instead relied on ultrasound waves for the activation.

“In contrast to light, low-frequency ultrasound can travel through the body without any scattering,” he noted.

“This could be a big advantage when you want to stimulate a region deep in the brain without affecting other regions,” adds Stuart Ibsen, post-doctoral fellow in the Chalasani lab.

“The real prize will be to see whether this could work in a mammalian brain,” Chalasani pointed out.

His group has already begun testing the approach in mice. “When we make the leap into therapies for humans, I think we have a better shot with noninvasive sonogenetics approaches than with optogenetics,” he emphasised in a paper appeared in the journal Nature Communications.

Chalasani obtained his PhD from University of Pennsylvania. He then did his post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr Cori Bargmann at the Rockefeller University in New York.

(IANS)

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Google To Provide 4K Chromebooks, 1 Lakh Wi-fi Hotspots For Rural Students in California

The search engine giant has announced to provide over $800 million to support small and medium businesses (SMBs), health organisations, governments and health workers on the frontline of global COVID-19 pandemic

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Google
The search engine giant has announced to provide over $800 million to support small and medium businesses (SMBs), health organisations, governments and health workers on the frontline of global COVID-19 pandemic. Pixabay

Google has announced to provide 4,000 Chromebooks and 1,00,000 Wi-Fi hotspots for rural students in California, who are studying from home due to coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative was announced by California Governor Gavin Newsom and Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday. “We are providing 4,000 Chromebooks to California students in greatest need & free wifi to 1,00,000 rural households during the #COVID19 crisis to make distance learning more accessible,” Pichai tweeted.

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Governor Newsom said the state’s Department of Education will distribute the Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots, prioritising rural communities.

However, the governor estimated that California needs an additional 1,62,013 hotspots on top of the 1,00,000 hotspots and to meet the need the governor has asked other companies to donate.

Google
The initiative was announced by California Governor Gavin Newsom and Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Wikimedia Commons

The search engine giant has announced to provide over $800 million to support small and medium businesses (SMBs), health organisations, governments and health workers on the frontline of global COVID-19 pandemic.

ALSO READ: HP, Lenovo Witness Massive Surge in Bulk Buying of Laptops in India Amidst “Work From Home” During Lockdown

The commitment would include $250 million in ad grants to help the World Health Organisation (WHO) and more than 100 government agencies globally provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other measures to help local communities. (IANS)