Current Melanopsin News and Events

Current Melanopsin News and Events, Melanopsin News Articles.
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Let there be 'circadian' light
Researchers publishing in Current Biology describe the science behind creating lighting to make us all happy and productive indoors. A company is using the technology to create commercial lightbulbs available later this year. (2020-02-20)

Researchers discover when it's good to get the blues
Contrary to common belief, blue light may not be as disruptive to our sleep patterns as originally thought -- according to University of Manchester scientists. According to the team, using dim, cooler, lights in the evening and bright warmer lights in the day may be more beneficial to our health. (2019-12-16)

Combining science and design to measure our exposure to light
Daylight plays an essential role in sleep, alertness and hormone regulation. EPFL has joined forces with Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD - Genève) to develop a wearable sensor that measures how much light an individual is exposed to along with the spectral resolution of that light. (2019-12-12)

Scientists discover skin keeps time independent of the brain
A study published Oct. 10 in Current Biology has now found that a type of opsin known as neuropsin is expressed in the hair follicles of mice and synchronize the skin's circadian clock to the light-dark cycle, independent of the eyes or brain. Researchers now want to see if skin heals better if it's exposed to certain types of light. (2019-10-16)

A timekeeper for siesta
External stimuli can rearrange the hierarchy of neuronal networks and influence behaviour. This was demonstrated by scientists from the universities of Würzburg and Brandeis using the circadian clock of the fruit fly as an example. (2019-10-07)

Shedding light on how the human eye perceives brightness
Japanese scientists are shedding new light on the importance of light-sensing cells in the retina that process visual information. The researchers isolated the functions of melanopsin cells and demonstrated their crucial role in the perception of visual environment. This ushers in a new understanding of the biology of the eye and how visual information is processed. (2019-08-17)

Manufacture of light-activated proteins
A new strategy for designing light-sensitive proteins has been developed by researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Such proteins, also known as optogenetic tools, can be switched on and off through light impulses, thus triggering specific cellular processes. So far, researchers developing optogenetic tools have been pretty much forced to resort to trial-and-error. A combination of computer-aided and experimental methods has now paved the way for a more targeted approach. (2019-08-02)

'Seeing' tails help sea snakes avoid predators
New research has revealed the fascinating adaptation of some Australian sea snakes that helps protect their vulnerable paddle-shaped tails from predators. (2019-02-15)

Controlling and visualizing receptor signals in neural cells with light
Using a novel optogenetic tool, researchers have successfully controlled, reproduced and visualized serotonin receptor signals in neural cells. To this end, they modified a photosensitive membrane receptor in the eye, namely melanopsin. They were able to switch the receptor on and off using light; it also acted like a sensor indicating via fluorescence if specific signalling pathways in the cell had been activated. The sensor was, moreover, specifically designed to migrate to those domains in the neural cells that are sensitive to the neurotransmitter serotonin. (2019-02-14)

Why screen time can disrupt sleep
For most, the time spent staring at screens -- on computers, phones, iPads -- constitutes many hours and can often disrupt sleep. Now, Salk Institute researchers have pinpointed how certain cells in the eye process ambient light and reset our internal clocks, the daily cycles of physiological processes known as the circadian rhythm. When these cells are exposed to artificial light late into the night, our internal clocks can get confused, resulting in a host of health issues. (2018-11-27)

Uncomfortable sight from an ancient reflex of the eye
The eyes are for seeing, but they have other important biological functions, including automatic visual reflexes that go on without awareness. The reflexive system of the human eye also produces a conscious, visual experience, according to a new study from researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. (2017-10-31)

Gene therapy shows promise for reversing blindness
Most causes of untreatable blindness occur due to loss of the millions of light sensitive photoreceptor cells that line the retina, similar to the pixels in a digital camera. (2017-10-02)

How do we sense moonlight? Daylight? There's a cell for that
Reporting in today's Cell, neuroscientists at Boston Children's Hospital describe an unexpected way that we sense the overall degree of illumination in our environment. They found that neurons in the retina of the eye divvy up the job, with particular neurons tuned to different ranges of light intensity. (2017-09-28)

A no-brainer? Mouse eyes constrict to light without direct link to the brain
Experimenting with mice, neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine report new evidence that the eye's iris in many lower mammals directly senses light and causes the pupil to constrict without involving the brain. (2017-06-19)

Guiding light
Biologists discover an unexpected role for a light-sensitive receptor protein in the central brain that regulates circadian rhythms. (2017-05-10)

New light sensing molecule discovered in the fruit fly brain
Six biological pigments called rhodopsins play well-established roles in light-sensing in the fruit fly eye. Three of them also have light-independent roles in temperature sensation. New research shows that a seventh rhodopsin, Rh7, is expressed in the brain of fruit flies where it regulates the fly's day-night activity cycles. The study appears in Nature and was funded by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. (2017-05-10)

Use it or lose it: Visual activity regenerates neural connections between eye and brain
A study in mice funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of NIH, shows for the first time that visual stimulation can help damaged retinal neurons regrow optic nerve fibers (retinal ganglion cell axons). In combination with chemically induced neural stimulation, axons grew further than in strategies tried previously. Treated mice partially regained visual function. The study demonstrates that adult regenerated CNS axons are capable of navigating to correct targets in the brain. (2016-07-11)

Lighting color affects sleep and wakefulness
A research team from Oxford University have shown how different colors of light could affect our ability to sleep. At the same time they have established that the light-sensitive pigment melanopsin is necessary for the substantial wavelength-dependent effects of light on sleep. The results point to a need to understand the effects of artificial lighting's different color balances. (2016-06-08)

Novel optogenetic tool
Researchers in Bochum have utilised light-sensitive proteins from nerve cells of the eye -- so-called melanopsins -- to switch on specific signalling pathways in brain cells with high temporal precision. Depending on what kind of melanopsin the researchers used, signalling pathways were switched on either transiently or sustained. The team from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum together with researchers from the University of Osnabrück report in the journal 'Current Biology.' (2016-04-08)

Enhancing neuronal activity promotes axon regeneration in adult CNS
Scientists from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) demonstrated that axon regenerative capacity can be boosted with the right stimulants on neuronal activity through either an optogenetic or a chemogenetic approach. (2016-02-10)

Light pollution a threat to annual coral spawning
University of Queensland research has pinpointed artificial light as a threat to coral reproduction, in a discovery that will help guide reef and marine ecosystem protection plans. (2015-12-15)

Molecular characteristics of mammalian melanopsins for non-visual photoreception
Researchers at Institute for Molecular Sciences reported that a mammalian photoreceptive protein melanopsin spontaneously releases the chromophore retinal. The property would be important to regulate non-visual photoreception in mammals. (2015-10-08)

How the retina marches to the beat of its own drum
Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Washington report new research that sheds light on how the retina sets its own biological rhythm using a novel light-sensitive pigment, called neuropsin, found in nerve cells at the back of the eye. (2015-09-29)

Light in sight: a step towards a potential therapy for acquired blindness
A promising new therapeutic approach for hereditary blindness based on a technology termed 'optogenetics' is to introduce light-sensing proteins into these surviving retinal cells, turning them into 'replacement photoreceptors' and thereby restoring vision. However, several factors limit the feasibility of a clinical optogenetic therapy using traditional light-sensitive proteins, as they require unnaturally high and potentially harmful light intensities and employ a foreign signaling mechanism within the target retinal cells. (2015-05-07)

NIH-funded study is decoding blue light's mysterious ability to alter body's natural clock
Blue light bombards us, whether city lights, smartphones or tablets, says chemist Brian Zoltowski, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. Blue light knocks off-kilter the natural circadian clock in humans, plants and animals, and can result in health problems, sleep and mood disorders, drug addiction, crop disease, and even confused migratory animals. The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $320,500 grant to Zoltowski's lab to map the trajectory of blue lightwaves signaling the body's natural clock. (2014-12-02)

Penn researchers untangle the biological effects of blue light
Blue light can both set the mood and set in motion important biological responses. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences have teased apart the separate biological responses of the human eye to blue light, revealing an unexpected contest for control. (2014-10-20)

JHU biologists identify new neural pathway in eyes that aids in vision
A less-well-known type of retina cell plays a more critical role in vision than previously understood. (2014-05-21)

Computer models help decode cells that sense light without seeing
Researchers have found that the melanopsin pigment in the retina is potentially more sensitive to light than its more famous counterpart, rhodopsin, the pigment that allows for night vision. The staff of the Laboratory for Computational Photochemistry and Photobiology at Ohio's Bowling Green State University have leveraged OSC computing and storage systems to study melanopsin, a retina pigment capable of sensing environmental light changes, informing the nervous system and synchronizing it with the day/night rhythm. (2014-02-07)

Drug blocks light sensors in eye that may trigger migraine attacks
For many migraine sufferers, bright lights are a surefire way to exacerbate their headaches. And for some night-shift workers, just a stroll through a brightly lit parking lot during the morning commute home can be enough to throw off their body's daily rhythms and make daytime sleep nearly impossible. But a new molecule that selectively blocks specialized light-sensitive receptors in the eyes could help both these groups of people, without affecting normal vision. (2013-08-26)

Sensing the light, but not to see
In a primitive marine organism, MBL scientists find photosensitive cells that may be ancestral to the (2013-02-06)

Light exposure during pregnancy key to normal eye development
New research in Nature concludes the eye -- which depends on light to see -- also needs light to develop normally during pregnancy. Scientists say the unexpected finding offers a new basic understanding of fetal eye development and ocular diseases caused by vascular disorders -- in particular one called retinopathy of prematurity that can blind premature infants. (2013-01-16)

Sundown syndrome-like symptoms in fruit flies may be due to high dopamine levels
Researchers have discovered a mechanism involving the neurotransmitter dopamine that switches fruit fly behavior from being active during the day (diurnal) to nocturnal. This change parallels a human disorder in which increased agitation occurs in the evening hours near sunset and may also be due to higher than normal dopamine levels in the brain. (2012-05-12)

Light switch: U.Va. study finds increased light may moderate fearful reactions
Biologists and psychologists know that light affects mood, but a new University of Virginia study indicates that light may also play a role in modulating fear and anxiety. (2011-08-10)

Mount Sinai researcher finds unexpected temperature sensation for a light detector
New research from Mount Sinai School of Medicine has discovered that rhodopsin, a pigment of the retina that is responsible for the first events in the perception of light, may also be involved in temperature sensation. This detection had not been revealed in previous studies. (2011-03-11)

Melanopsin looks on the bright side of life
Better known as the light sensor that sets the body's biological clock, melanopsin also plays an important role in vision: Via its messengers-so-called melanopsin-expressing retinal ganglion cells, or mRGCs-it forwards information about the brightness of incoming light directly to conventional visual centers in the brain, reports an international collaboration of scientists in this week's issue of PLoS Biology. (2010-12-07)

Study explains why light worsens migraine headaches
Scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified a new visual pathway that underlies sensitivity to light during migraine in both blind individuals and in individuals with normal eyesight. (2010-01-10)

An 'eye catching' vision discovery
Nearly all species have some ability to detect light. At least three types of cells in the retina allow us to see images or distinguish between night and day. Now, researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have discovered in fish yet another type of cell that can sense light and contribute to vision. (2009-07-26)

Bright lights, not-so-big pupils
A team of Johns Hopkins neuroscientists has worked out how some newly discovered light sensors in the eye detect light and communicate with the brain. The report appears online this week in Nature. (2008-12-31)

Seasonal affective disorder may be linked to genetic mutation, study suggests
A new study indicates that seasonal affective disorder may be linked to a genetic mutation in the eye that makes a SAD patient less sensitive to light. (2008-11-03)

Gene therapy restores vision to mice with retinal degeneration
Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have used gene therapy to restore useful vision to mice with degeneration of the light-sensing retinal rods and cones, a common cause of human blindness. Their report describes the effects of broadly expressing a light-sensitive protein in other neuronal cells found throughout the retina. (2008-10-16)

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