Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown they can coax cells to move toward a beam of light. The feat is a first step toward manipulating cells to control factors such as insulin secretion or heart rate using light.
Their research is published April 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We have succeeded in using light as a kind of on-off switch to control cells’ behavior,” says principal investigator N. Gautam, PhD, a professor of anesthesiology. “Much of the way cells behave is due to their ability to sense signals in the environment. In these experiments, what the cells sense is the presence of light.”