Scientists out of Simon Fraser University in Canada have developed a chemical switch that can paralyze C. elegans nematodes and bring them back to mobility when triggered by an external light.
The JACS report describes development and successful testing of a photoswitch composed of the light-sensitive material, dithienylethene. The scientists grew transparent, pinhead-sized worms (C. elegans) and fed them a dithienylethene. When exposed to ultraviolet light, the worms turned blue and became paralyzed. When exposed to visible light, the dithienylethene became colorless again and the worms’ paralysis ended. Many of the worms lived through the paralyze-unparalyze cycle. Scientists were not sure how the switch causes paralysis. The study demonstrates that photoswitches may have great potential in turning photodynamic therapy on and off, and for other applications in medicine and research, they indicate.
Abstract in Journal of American Chemical Society: A Photocontrolled Molecular Switch Regulates Paralysis in a Living Organism
Full story: New on-off ‘switch’ triggers and reverses paralysis in animals with a beam of light …