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Thorlabs and Blackrock Microsystems Announce a New Partnership for Providing Leading Optical Stimulation Solutions to the Neuroscience Research Community

Newton, NJ – October 14, 2012. Thorlabs of Newton, NJ and Blackrock Microsystems of Salt Lake City, UT jointly announce a partnership to provide leading optical stimulation system solutions to the neuroscience research community. Under the terms of the agreement, Thorlabs’ optical stimulation system has been incorporated into Blackrock Microsystems’ Cerebus bio-potential recording system to create a complete bio-potential recording and optogenetics package now offered by Blackrock Microsystems. This joint venture provides neuroscience researchers with a comprehensive data acquisition and optical stimulation solution.

“We are very pleased to have this partnership with Thorlabs. They are a global leader in fiber optic technologies, and their optical stimulation system is a great complement to our electrophysiology data acquisition product line,” said Dr. Florian Solzbacher, Blackrock Microsystems’ President and Executive Chairman.

Optogenetics is a fast-growing and widely accepted neuron-stimulation alternative that allows neuroscientists to further understand specific brain networks and their roles in mental processes such as movement, thought, memory, and mood. In contrast to electrical stimulation, which excites targeted regions of the brain by using an electric current, optical stimulation is a non-electrical, light-induced stimulation solution that can target specific neurons with a much higher degree of resolution.

By combining optical stimulation and bio-potential recording capabilities, researchers are able to excite precise neural networks and accurately record the evoked response of the subject. These advances allow scientists to accurately determine the role of specific neural networks, which ultimately leads to a better understanding of brain function.

The Thorlabs Optogenetics Kit is a package that includes all the necessary tools to create and deliver light to the specimen. The included fiber-coupled LED provides the key wavelength range of light required to activate the opsins while the high-strength, lightweight fibers provide a robust means of connecting the light source to the subject cells. Thorlabs has leveraged its vertically integrated manufacturing capabilities in Laser Imaging, Optical Fiber, and Light Source manufacturing to provide a wide variety of products tailored to meet the specific needs of Optogenetics research.

“We see a lot of potential and growth coming from Neuroscience research and specifically Optogenetics,” said Alex Cable, president and CEO of Thorlabs. “The use of our core photonics products in these applications has been a great fit with our mission to enable and accelerate research in this arena. In particular, Optogenetics is a key technology for the advancement of both Life Sciences and Photonics, and we look forward to remaining an important partner for the research community.”

The Blackrock Microsystems bio-potential recording system is a multiple channel data recording system that interfaces with any electrode configuration to record and simultaneously provide real-time analysis of neural activity. The company’s Cerebus version of this system is configured for research application, while the Neuroport system is FDA-cleared and CE-marked for human use.

Dr. Florian Solzbacher emphasizes that, “Our commitment is to the immediate and future needs of the neuroscience research community. This community is hungry for new technologies that further unlock the mysteries of the brain, and optical stimulation combined with bio-potential recording is a major step forward in key solutions for next generation pharmaceutical development, healthcare, and personalized medicine advances.”

The companies will launch the combined optical stimulation and recording system at this year’s Society for Neuroscience conference being held in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA from October 13-17th. Please stop by the Blackrock Microsystems’ booth #1631 to see newly the integrated system.

About Thorlabs:
Thorlabs, an active member of the Photonics community for over 20 years, manufactures equipment for the photonics industry, including optomechanics, optics, laser diodes, tunable lasers, fiber optics, optical detectors, motion control equipment, and vibration isolation systems. In addition to core photonics equipment, we also provide a line of optogenetics equipment as well as system-level solutions such as our complete OCT, confocal, and multiphoton imaging systems. With over 850 employees at offices based in the US, UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Japan, China, and Brazil, Thorlabs is focused on providing fast response to customer inquiries and same-day shipment for stock items.

About Blackrock Microsystems:
Blackrock Microsystems manufactures and sells FDA-cleared and CE-marked multichannel data acquisition systems, supporting hardware and software analysis tools for electrophysiology-based neuroscience research and human clinical application. In addition to the data acquisition systems technology the company manufactures and sells the FDA-cleared 96-channel high-density Utah Array for cortical high-resolution recordings and stimulation.