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Focus on optogenetics

IMC Krems presents pioneering research at the Vienna Museum of Science and Technology

The Vienna Museum of Science and Technology is launching the latest round of its presentation format "Innovation Corner." In collaboration with the Lower Austrian technology financing company tecnet equity and the technology incubator accent, outstanding projects in the fields of medical technology and life sciences will be showcased. The IMC Krems presents its research findings in the current exhibition.
For more than five years, Christoph Wiesner’s research group has been focussing on optogenetics, an up-and-coming field of research that deals with the targeted control of cells by light. The research at IMC Krems provides the basis for new and targeted therapeutic approaches, particularly in the fight against chronic inflammation and cancer.

As part of the current "Innovation Corner" exhibition at the Vienna Museum of Science and Technology, the research of IMC Krems is also being showcased. Pictured are Christoph Wiesner, Anna Stierschneider, Martin Waiguny, and Klaus Kotek (from left to right).

Optogenetics: an emerging field with groundbreaking discoveries

Optogenetics was discovered in the 1970s and has developed rapidly since then. Originally discovered in bacteria, light-sensitive proteins, known as opsins, cause a reaction to light of certain wavelengths. This triggers a cellular reaction, for example the control of ion channels. In this way, the physiological processes and behaviour of the cells are modulated. Opsins were subsequently used in optogenetics to control neuronal activity. This led to groundbreaking findings in neurology and opened up new possibilities for the research and treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy and depression.
The researchers at IMC Krems want to develop optogenetic models to investigate the regenerative or disease-promoting potential of certain cell receptors. Receptors are molecules on the surface of a cell that receive signals from the environment and transmit them to the cell. By combining light-sensitive proteins with different receptors, these can be precisely switched on or off with light. This opens up new ways of investigating inflammation, sepsis and even cancer.

New paths in therapy research thanks to optogenetic techniques

“The new findings in optogenetics help us to better understand the underlying mechanisms. It also enables us to develop new and targeted therapeutic approaches,” explains Prof. Dr. Christoph Wiesner, research professor at IMC Krems.
Wiesner has been researching this optogenetic approach for over five years in projects supported by the state of Lower Austria, the Lower Austrian Research Promotion Agency (GFF NÖ) and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). Follow-up projects are already underway to deepen the ideas and findings already established and drive forward new innovations: an FWF Esprit and an FWF doc.funds.connect project. There has already been a long-standing cooperation and intensive collaboration in research and technology transfer with tecnet and accent.
The new exhibition in the Innovation Corner at the Vienna Museum of Science and Technology offers all visitors the opportunity to find out about the latest developments in the field of optogenetics. Research at IMC Krems sets new standards in innovative science and opens up promising prospects for the future of medicine.

About Christoph Wiesner

Prof. (FH) Dr. Christoph Wiesner, research professor at the Department of Life Sciences at IMC Krems University of Applied Sciences, heads the “Cellomics/High Content Screening” research group. This project focuses on the establishment of innovative cell-based test systems for the identification of therapeutic target molecules (targets) and the investigation of biologically active substances in the field of immunology and immuno-oncology. Thanks to his many years of experience in project management and in the development of complex tissue and disease models, his research group is able to develop three-dimensional models for the investigation of active substances and to gain insights into the molecular mechanisms of diseases. The use of optogenetic techniques opens up new possibilities for investigating pathogenetic mechanisms and identifying new target molecules for diseases such as chronic inflammation and cancer.

About Anna Stierschneider 

Anna Stierschneider, PhD completed the PhD programme “Regenerative Medicine” at the University for Continuing Education Krems (UWK) 2023 after completing her bachelor and master degrees in “Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology” at IMC Krems. She is currently working as a senior postdoc in the Department of Life Sciences at IMC Krems in her latest FWF research project on the development of new therapeutic approaches to colorectal cancer. The young researcher has already been honoured for her outstanding research work with the tecnet accent Innovation Award, the Science Award at IMC Krems and the “Award of Excellence” state prize from the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.