Research ArticlePOLYMERS

Semiconducting polymers are light nanotransducers in eyeless animals

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Science Advances  25 Jan 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 1, e1601699
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601699

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Current implant technology uses electrical signals at the electrode-neural interface. This rather invasive approach presents important issues in terms of performance, tolerability, and overall safety of the implants. Inducing light sensitivity in living organisms is an alternative method that provides groundbreaking opportunities in neuroscience. Optogenetics is a spectacular demonstration of this, yet is limited by the viral transfection of exogenous genetic material. We propose a nongenetic approach toward light control of biological functions in living animals. We show that nanoparticles based on poly(3-hexylthiophene) can be internalized in eyeless freshwater polyps and are fully biocompatible. Under light, the nanoparticles modify the light response of the animals, at two different levels: (i) they enhance the contraction events of the animal body, and (ii) they change the transcriptional activation of the opsin3-like gene. This suggests the establishment of a seamless and biomimetic interface between the living organism and the polymer nanoparticles that behave as light nanotransducers, coping with or amplifying the function of primitive photoreceptors.

  • polymer nanoparticles
  • bio interfaces
  • bio photonics
  • Photophysics

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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