Dr. nat. Arend VogtPostDoc - Biochemistry and Optogenetics
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
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I have specialized on the electrophysiological investigation and bioengineering of light-sensitive membrane proteins, the rhodopsins. These proteins serve in many organisms for the perception of light, also in our own eyes. Rhodopsins play a major role as optogenetic tools in the neurosciences. However, many new optogenetic tools have been published in recent years, but most of them have not yet found their way into concrete medical questions. Through my work I want to actively promote this transfer of knowledge.
Current project: Optogenetic restoration of dopamine signaling in Parkinson's disease
In the healthy brain, the neurotransmitter dopamine is produced in the midbrain and binds to dopamine receptors in the striatum. The striatum, like the midbrain, is an important regulatory unit for controlling movement. Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative movement disorder and is caused by the progressive decline of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the midbrain. As a result, the dopamine receptors in the striatum can no longer be activated. We aim to restore the dopamine signaling with light using minimal-invasive light-implants and genetically modified dopamine receptors. These modified receptors (OptoXRs) consist of light-sensitive rhodopsins and the intracellular loops of dopamine receptors. With this project we hope to make an important contribution to the investigation and treatment of Parkinson's disease. In addition, this approach could also be helpful in the treatment of similar diseases. We started this challenging project at the end of 2019 and are supported by the VolkswagenStiftung (Freigeist-Fellowship).