We’ve been waiting a long time for things in science-fiction movies to become reality, and while we may not have a flying car just yet, it looks like we are one step closer in harnessing the power of thought.
Most people don’t realize that thoughts have substance; every thought is generated by a brainwave, and like radiowaves, brainwaves can be controlled, manipulated and applied to objects in the environment. The only problem is research utilizing brain waves has been slow in development, though advancements have been made for people with certain disabilities.
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Now, however, science has gotten one step closer to making brainwave technology more universally applicable. Researchers from Switzerland have developed a way to use brainwaves–the power of their thoughts–to turn gene expression on and off in laboratory mice.
“For the first time, we have been able to tap into human brainwaves, transfer them wirelessly to a gene network and regulate the expression of a gene depending on the type of thought,” said study author, Prof. Martin Fussenegger, to MNT. “Being able to control gene expression via the power of thought is a dream that we’ve been chasing for over a decade.”
Gene expression refers to the process by which gene products are made within the body. Materials from News Medical explain expression occurs when the genetic instructions contained by genes are used to synthesize things like proteins, which then go on to perform essential functions as enzymes, hormones and receptors, among others. Certain diseases are the result of, or can cause, inappropriate gene expression in the body. Certain forms of breast cancer, degenerative neurological disease and autoimmune conditions can all be the result of gene expression.
The technology is far from being able to be used to influence diseases in humans, however. At the moment, researchers have only been able to apply the power of the mind to gene expression in laboratory mice, creating the protein alkaline phosphatase (SEAP), which is easily detectable for research purposes. Mice in the study were implanted with engineered cells created to manufacture SEAP, and those cells were then controlled by human participants in the lab.
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“Cybernetics has pioneered mind-controlled electromechanical man-machine interfaces that allow brain activities to intentionally control bionic prostheses, and optogenetics has established electromolecular machine-man interfaces that enable light-controlled therapeutic interventions by modulating brain, heart and gene activities,” wrote the researchers in their report. “By combining cybernetics with optogenetics, we now provide the missing link enabling mental states such as biofeedback, concentration and meditation to directly control the transgene expression in living cells and mammals.”
The team hopes to eventually develop technology based on the power of the mind that can help individuals who suffer from conditions involving inappropriate gene expression.