Researchers attending the 55th meeting of the Biophysical Society in Baltimore, Maryland, presented their latest findings, from the promise of a newly discovered spider toxin in studying pain to advances in molecular imaging techniques. Below are some highlights from the meeting.Switching on neural receptorsAttaching light-sensing molecules to receptors inside neurons, researchers are able to turn the receptors on and off with millisecond accuracy simply by flashing some light. This makes it possible to "probe specific receptors in living organisms," said Joshua Levitz, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, who helped develop the technique. Applying the method to G-protein-coupled receptors, Levitz can study the hippocampus, where memories are formed, stored and maintained. The light-sensitive G-protein-coupled receptors may one day prove useful in the clinic by, for example, manipulating the retina's G-protein-coupled receptors, which are critical for vision.Toxic tool for studying pain
Image: Wikimedia commons, Fir0002...
Delving into deafnessMolecular imaging advancesA safe, 'self' virus

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!