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The Mind-Control Device That Can Alter Genes

If you’re planning to hit the stores today for some Black Friday shopping… well, you must be mad!

Wild horses couldn’t drag me to that nonsense – deals or no deals.

Luckily, as you prepare to face the crowds and fight over the last discounted Xbox One, technology has made the shopping experience more bearable.

We have apps that locate the best deals at the best times, let us make payments with our phones, and even help us dodge the most crowded areas.

Now, imagine the possibilities if you added mind control to this list.

With this ultra-advanced new technology, that’s not as far-fetched as it sounds…

In fact, some scientists are already testing the use of mind control to cure diseases!

Behold! The Power of Mind-Control Science

Far away from the madness of American crowds – in Zurich, Switzerland – bioengineers are working on something that sounds like it belongs in a James Bond film.

They’ve created a mind-control device!

Their work incorporates advances in two fields (cybernetics and synthetic biology) that explore how biological, physical, cognitive, and social systems work…

~Cybernetics: This field looks at how various systems and structures work – be they physical, mechanical, biological, electrical, social, communication, or in terms of neuroscience and psychology. Needless to say, it’s pretty massive, and underpins much of what we experience on a daily basis.

~Synthetic Biology: As the term suggests, synthetic biology is a more “artificial” form of biology. It’s been described as studying the “design and construction” of biological systems and devices. The study draws on biology, biotechnology, evolutionary biology, and molecular biology.

Of course, the research isn’t meant to help consumers battle over Black Friday purchases. They have much loftier goals in mind…

Indeed, the Swiss scientists’ work has resulted in a “mind-control system that allows a person to alter the genes in a mouse through the power of thought alone,” according to The Guardian.

Here’s how the two-pronged process works…

If You Can Think It, These Mice Can Feel It

First, mice are fitted with a small implant. Equipped with genetically modified cells, copper coils, and an LED, it can alter the animal’s genes when given the right stimulation.

That implant is linked to a wireless headset, which monitors brainwaves.

Wearing the headset, human volunteers were asked to change their thinking – for example, from relaxing or meditating, to focusing and concentrating hard. Their brainwaves sent signals to the implant, which controlled an electromagnetic field that the mice were sitting on.

When the field responded, it triggered an electric current in the implant’s copper coils. That switched on the LED, which activated the implant’s cells, and changed the mouse’s corresponding gene accordingly.

Essentially, the device translated changes in the humans’ thoughts and state of mind, allowing them to intercept the mouse’s brain.

The volunteers could adjust how much protein a mouse’s gene produced and sent around its blood system.

With practice, the volunteers could alter the gene whenever they wanted by looking to see when the LED was illuminated and controlling it with their thoughts.

Think of it in terms of how we can change our own focus, feelings, attitudes, and state of mind through the power of thought and/or by concentrating on something in particular. Various biological and chemical reactions occur that make it happen.

Now, if you feel sorry for the poor mice here, rest assured… no mice were harmed during the making of this experiment.

The various protein adjustments didn’t radically affect them. But the tests did allow scientists to monitor the changes – and how the humans did it.

Besides, these mice are serving a noble purpose…

Gene Therapy on Steroids

The scientists say the process could lay the groundwork for bold new ways to treat diseases. How?

Well, given that genes determine our existence and control proteins, we already know that any serious deviation from the norm can cause illness and disease.

But by monitoring brainwaves, they’re targeting cognitive problems such as epilepsy.

Their aim is for the device to identify issues very early – and distribute the appropriate treatment automatically.

Project leader and bioengineer at ETH Zurich, Martin Fussenegger, tells The Guardian, “We’re familiar with prosthetic devices, such as artificial hearts and replacement hips, but we’ve not transferred the concept to the molecular world. This is where I believe our mind-control device could set an example. This could change treatment strategies of the future.”

Now, clearly, something as unique, innovative, and radical as this isn’t going to hit the market tomorrow.

Needless to say, it’s not easy to consistently and reliably translate all the brain’s signals correctly to identify problems. And implanting it in humans would require rigorous testing.

However, Fussenegger aims to get clinical trials underway within five years to see how people with epilepsy or chronic pain would respond.

He says while chemicals have certainly proved critical in treating disease, he says the human body is more about “proteins controlling proteins. We want a device that does it all in the body and interfaces with the physiology of the body.”

And by using this kind of mind-controlled gene and protein activation technique to fight illness and disease, there’s no limit to what could be done.

For now, in the absence of mind control, steer clear of the stores today!


Martin Denholm

Martin Denholm

, Managing Editor

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