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In a first for “sonogenetics,” researchers control mammalian cells with sound

Clinicians treating brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy currently use deep brain stimulation, a process that involves surgically implanting electrodes in the brain, to activate certain subsets of cells. Now, Associate Professor Sreekanth Chalasani, co-first authors Marc Duque, Corinne Lee-Kubli and Yusuf Tufail, and colleagues have pinpointed a sound-sensitive mammalian protein that lets them activate brain cells with ultrasound. Pioneered by Chalasani, “sonogenetics” uses ultrasonic waves to stimulate specific groups of genetically marked cells. The finding paves the way toward non-invasive versions of deep brain stimulation, pacemakers and insulin pumps. See Resolution feature.

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