Acoustically Targeted Chemogenetics for Noninvasive Control of Neural Circuits
Neurological and psychiatric diseases often involve the dysfunction of specific neural circuits in particular regions of the brain. Existing treatments, including drugs and implantable brain stimulators, aim to modulate the activity of these circuits, but are typically not cell type-specific, lack spatial targeting or require invasive procedures. Here, we introduce an approach to modulating neural circuits noninvasively with spatial, cell-type and temporal specificity. This approach, called acoustically targeted chemogenetics, or ATAC, uses transient ultrasonic opening of the blood brain barrier to transduce neurons at specific locations in the brain with virally-encoded engineered G-protein-coupled receptors, which subsequently respond to systemically administered bio-inert compounds to activate or inhibit the activity of these neurons. We demonstrate this concept in mice by using ATAC to noninvasively modify and subsequently activate or inhibit excitatory neurons within the hippocampus, showing that this enables pharmacological control of memory formation. This technology allows a brief, noninvasive procedure to make one or more specific brain regions capable of being selectively modulated using orally bioavailable compounds, thereby overcoming some of the key limitations of conventional brain therapies.
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