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Canadian Optogenetics and Vectorology Foundry

Principal Investigator:
  • Yves De Koninck, Université Laval
Team Members:
  • Marie-Eve Paquet, Université Laval
  • Paul De Koninck, Université Laval
  • Robert Campbell, University of Alberta
  • Keith Murai, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre
  • Edward Ruthazer, McGill University
  • Stuart Trenholm, McGill University
  • Reza Sharif-Naeini, McGill University
  • Thomas Durcan, Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University
  • Tomoko Ohyama, McGill University
  • Edward Fon, McGill University
  • Jean-Claude Béïque, University of Ottawa
  • Stephanie Borgland, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary
  • Lynn Raymond, University of British Columbia
  • University of British Columbia / Vancouver Coastal Health Authority
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Ottawa
  • McGill University
  • McGill University Health Centre - Research Institute
  • CIUSSS-CN (CERVO Brain Research Centre)

Project Overview

Optogenetics is a relatively new science subdomain that is revolutionizing brain research with great promises for therapeutics. Oxford dictionary defines it as a technique in neuroscience in which genes for light-sensitive proteins are introduced into specific types of brain cells in order to monitor and control their activity precisely using light signals.

The proposal is to take advantage of world leaders from universities across the nation to position Canada at the forefront of the optogenetics revolution. The proposed Canadian Optogenetics and Vectorology Foundry aims to accelerate the development of new light responsive genes and proteins through the implementation of a design-build-test loop for biological engineering. New optogenetics tools will be designed at the DNA level and built into viruses which serve as vehicles for delivery of the tool into cells for testing and validation. Vectorology, the building of modified non-toxic viruses, allows for the transfer of a gene of interest into organs of live animals to induce production of the protein corresponding to that gene in a cell-type specific manner. The proposed development loop will also accelerate the path to gene therapies and the use of light to treat brain disorders. New tools will be tested in various models, from lower organisms, to mice, to non-human primates and human cells. This is a critical continuum to support the development of new diagnostics and drug development/validation tools, as well as clinical applications. All of the results obtained from the testing of various optogenetics tools will be shared with the scientific community and easily accessible through an open-science platform.