05:44 GMT23 April 2021
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    Scientists from the US and China have given mice the ability to see near-infrared light, a wavelength not normally visible to the rodents (or human beings, for that matter), by injecting nanoparticles into their eyes.

    The scientists' research, published in the 28 February edition of Cell, boasted that via a single injection of a special "ocular nanoparticle," the mice could see near-infrared light for up to 10 weeks at a time, with no major side effects or long-term damage to normal vision.

    The nanoparticles work by anchoring to the mouse's photoreceptor cells, with the rodent then subjected to infrared light, with nanoparticles capturing the infrared wavelengths and retransmitting shorter wavelengths within the visible light range. Nearby photoreceptor cells then send signals to the brain similarly to how they would normally, thereby allowing mice to see light that's normally invisible.

    Scientists proved that the method works by shining infrared light into the mice's eyes and seeing their pupils contract, and testing their vision with a series of Y-mazes requiring the rodents to find hidden platforms.

    According to the research team, which included study senior author Tian Xue from the University of Science & Technology of China, and Gang Han from the University of Massachusetts' Medical School, the groundbreaking work may eventually lead to infrared vision among humans.

    "The visible light that can be perceived by [a] human's natural vision occupies just a very small fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum," Dr. Xue explained. "Electromagnetic waves longer or shorter than visible light carry lots of information."

    "We believe this technology will also work in human eyes, not only for generating super vision but also for therapeutic solutions in human red colour vision deficits," Xue said.

    "This is an exciting subject because the technology we made possible here could eventually enable human beings to see beyond our natural capabilities," the scientist stressed.

    Online, users were divided over the implications of the research. While many emphasised the amazing implications, others were less certain, speaking of possible dangers, including the ethical implications.


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    infrared vision, infrared, mice, reaction, science, China, US
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