The Southwest Magnetogenetics (SoMa) Project is working to create technologies to modulate the activity of targeted cells throughout the entire brain using magnetic fields that freely penetrate bone and tissue. To reach this goal we are leveraging the biological magnetocaloric effect to heat and cool ion channels based on changes in magnetic entropy. Based on the magnetocaloric effect we are exploring rational approaches to creating a diverse suite of “magnetogenetic” ion channels that can be completely genetically encoded in a variety of model organisms.SoMa’s overall goal is to provide the intellectual foundation for a new era in remote, cell-type-specific neuromodulation by delivering: 1) Transformative neuromodulation technologies that act uniformly across the entire brain of freely moving animals, 2) Validation of magnetogenetic effectors in key model organisms, and 3) Biophysical understanding of how the magnetocaloric effect drives physiological changes in biomolecules.
Key Research Resources Being Developed and Disseminated
In its initial phase, SoMa will produce validated magnetogenetic drosophila driver lines and plasmids and disseminate these resources through non-profit repositories like Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center and AddGene.