Scientists develop thought-controlled gene switch
Genes can be switched on using thought, a study reports. Brainwaves from human participants activated a tiny light which had been implanted in mice. This LED then activated light-sensitive genes which had been genetically engineered to respond in this way. The authors report that this could one day be used to control pain management or pre-empt epileptic seizures.
Though they noted that this paper was a proof of concept and that any potential therapeutic applications were still a long way off. Senior author of the work, Martin Fussenegger at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, said it was a huge step forward.
"At first you may ask why should I think something and then control my genes? I could push a button and [also] induce the LED. "The reason is, we've designed it for potential application for locked-in patients who can no longer communicate with the outside world other than with their mental activities and brainwaves. "This sounds like science fiction but it's an obvious interconnection of different technologies."