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Press


"If One is lucky, a solitary fantasy Can totally Transform a million Realities"   

__Maya Angelou

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Press


"If One is lucky, a solitary fantasy Can totally Transform a million Realities"   

__Maya Angelou

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Vice News (MotherBoard)


"With rhodopsin, [Cells] are like little hybrid cars with solar panels; they still get around by burning [calories and oxygen], but now they can use light to go further...from a purely technical perspective, the answer is pretty clear, you can certainly do this" 

-Jan Liphardt, a Stanford Biophysicist

Vice News (MotherBoard)


"With rhodopsin, [Cells] are like little hybrid cars with solar panels; they still get around by burning [calories and oxygen], but now they can use light to go further...from a purely technical perspective, the answer is pretty clear, you can certainly do this" 

-Jan Liphardt, a Stanford Biophysicist

Motherboard     (Vice News)

Hacking Humans Cells to Consume Solar Power Could Help Humans Heal Faster
— Maddie Stone (Vice news)

If we could upgrade our cells to run on solar power, the age-old restrictions of using [calories] and oxygen to produce energy might be overcome. The idea might sound outlandish, but to Christopher Powell, founder of the new biotech startup BiPlastiq, it’s not. Powell established his company to accomplish a single, radical goal: Hacking human mitochondria—our cellular engine—to gain additional power from light.

“Futurists often talk about [how] we’ll reinvent our biology so that our cells have an immediate energy supply,” Powell said. “But the fact is, our biology doesn’t currently work that way. Right now, this futurist vision lacks the rationale for how our cells can access power instantaneously; [Rhodopsin, a single protein that embeds itself in cell (and mitochondrial) membranes, can act as this supplemental generator]."

Jan Liphardt, a biophysicist at Stanford University, had the following to say about BiPlastiq's premise. "With Rhodopsin, [Cells] are like little hybrid cars with solar cells—they still get around by burning [calories and oxygen], but now they can use light to go further...From a purely technical perspective, the answer is pretty clear...You can certainly do this.”

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Optogenetics Primer


Optogenetics Primer


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There are many molecules [called Rhodopsins] that exist in nature, which are able to convert light into electricity. You can think of them as little proteins that are like solar cells
— Ed Boyden

“…when I started in neuroscience… I had trained as an electrical engineer and a physicist, and the first thing I thought about was, if these neurons are electrical devices, all we need to do is to find some way of driving those electrical changes at a distance [in a way that would also] allow us to have ultra-precise control…

Now how are we going to do that?

Well there are many molecules [called Rhodopsins] that exist in nature, which are able to convert light into electricity. You can think of them as little proteins that are like solar cells...When light hits it, it  allows charged particles [called ions] to enter and that allows this [organism] to have an electrical signal just like a solar cell charging up a battery...If we could install these molecules in neurons, then these neurons would become electrically drivable with light…"

"So what we need to do is to take these molecules and somehow install them in neurons. And because it's a protein, it's encoded for in the DNA of this organism. So all we've got to do is take that DNA, put it into a gene therapy vector, like a virus, and put it into neurons. The neuron then uses its natural protein-making machinery to fabricate these little light-sensitive proteins and install them all over the cell, like putting solar panels on a roof, and the next thing you know, you have a neuron which can be activated with light. And this was such a powerful tool…[that the] field has now come to be known as Optogenetics."


--Ed Boyden, founder of the Synthetic Neurobiology Group within Massachusetts Institute of Technology[MIT].