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VOLUME 94 | ISSUE 6 | PAGE 513
Digital photocontrol of the network of live excitable cells
Recent development of tissue engineering techniques allows creating and maintaining almost indefinitely networks of excitable cells with desired architecture. We coupled the network of live excitable cardiac cells with a common computer by sensitizing them to light, projecting a light pattern on the layer of cells, and monitoring excitation with the aid of fluorescent probes (optical mapping). As a sensitizing substance we used azobenzene trimethylammonium bromide (AzoTAB). This substance undergoes cis-trans-photoisomerisation and trans-isomer of AzoTAB inhibits excitation in the cardiac cells, while cis-isomer does not. AzoTAB mediated sensitization allows, thus, reversible and dynamic control of the excitation waves through the entire cardiomyocyte network either uniformly, or in a preferred spatial pattern. Technically, it was achieved by coupling a common digital projector with a macroview microscope and using computer graphic software for creating the projected pattern of conducting pathways. This approach allows real time interactive photocontrol of the heart tissue.