We have published our paper entitled "Optogenetics enables real-time spatiotemporal control over spiral wave dynamics in an excitable cardiac system" in eLife. Rupa and Iolanda have combined their skills and expertise to investigate spiral wave dynamics, thereby showing how one can gain spatiotemporal control over these dynamics by means of optogenetics.
The abstract reads as follows:
Propagation of non-linear waves is key to the functioning of diverse biological systems. Such waves can organize into spirals, rotating around a core, whose properties determine the overall wave dynamics. Theoretically, manipulation of a spiral wave core should lead to full spatiotemporal control over its dynamics. However, this theory lacks supportive evidence (even at a conceptual level), making it thus a long-standing hypothesis. Here, we propose a new phenomenological concept that involves artificially dragging spiral waves by their cores, to prove the afore-mentioned hypothesis in silico, with subsequent in vitro validation in optogenetically-modified monolayers of rat atrial cardiomyocytes. We thereby connect previously established, but unrelated concepts of spiral wave attraction, anchoring and unpinning to demonstrate that core manipulation, through controlled displacement of heterogeneities in excitable media, allows forced movement of spiral waves along pre-defined trajectories. Consequently, we impose real-time spatiotemporal control over spiral wave dynamics in a biological system.
This work was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO Vidi grant 917143) and the European Research Council (ERC Starting grant 716509).