Controlling genes with thought

#1
Researchers have constructed the first gene network that can be controlled by our thoughts. Scientists have developed a novel gene regulation method that enables thought-specific brainwaves to control the conversion of genes into proteins (gene expression). The inspiration was a game that picks up brainwaves in order to guide a ball through an obstacle course.
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. Being able to control gene expression via the power of thought is a dream that we've been chasing for over a decade," says Fussenegger.
The recorded brainwaves are analysed and wirelessly transmitted via Bluetooth to a controller, which in turn controls a field generator that generates an electromagnetic field; this supplies an implant with an induction current.
A light then literally goes on in the implant: an integrated LED lamp that emits light in the near-infrared range turns on and illuminates a culture chamber containing genetically modified cells. When the near-infrared light illuminates the cells, they start to produce the desired protein.
The implant was initially tested in cell cultures and mice, and controlled by the thoughts of various test subjects. The researchers used SEAP for the tests, an easy-to-detect human model protein which diffuses from the culture chamber of the implant into the mouse's bloodstream.
To regulate the quantity of released protein, the test subjects were categorised according to three states of mind: bio-feedback, meditation and concentration. Test subjects who played Minecraft on the computer, i.e. who were concentrating, induced average SEAP values in the bloodstream of the mice. When completely relaxed (meditation), the researchers recorded very high SEAP values in the test animals. For bio-feedback, the test subjects observed the LED light of the implant in the body of the mouse and were able to consciously switch the LED light on or off via the visual feedback. This in turn was reflected by the varying amounts of SEAP in the bloodstream of the mice.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141111111317.htm
 
#2
To be honest, I can't see the point of this. If there is a way to control gene expression electrically, that is fine, but why use a very inefficient method of taking data from a human - who could just write commands on to a keyboard!

Experiments of this sort seem to hanker after producing 'materialistic-PK' - but what is the point?

David
 
#3
To be honest, I can't see the point of this. If there is a way to control gene expression electrically, that is fine, but why use a very inefficient method of taking data from a human - who could just write commands on to a keyboard!

Experiments of this sort seem to hanker after producing 'materialistic-PK' - but what is the point?

David
Sorry for boring you Dave.

Well, I could make a philosophical point about the mind and intention. Rather than a digital ball being manipulated on a viewscreen with brainwaves this manipulates gene expression in a culture that affects the biology of the mouse. The other implication is the mind body connection, that was my first reaction, also interesting in light of this specifically as it relates to gene expression.

However the practical side could have far reaching and unforseen impacts. Just like anything else. When I first heard of this tech, I thought of the little kids who may end up playing with their toys through the power of intention. Like a muscle that could be developjed, who knows where it could lead. But now this opens up an even broader scope.

Other than that it is just fricken Cool.
 
#4
To be honest, I can't see the point of this. If there is a way to control gene expression electrically, that is fine, but why use a very inefficient method of taking data from a human - who could just write commands on to a keyboard!

Experiments of this sort seem to hanker after producing 'materialistic-PK' - but what is the point?

David
Too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater.?
 
#5
Sorry for boring you Dave.

Well, I could make a philosophical point about the mind and intention. Rather than a digital ball being manipulated on a viewscreen with brainwaves this manipulates gene expression in a culture that affects the biology of the mouse. The other implication is the mind body connection, that was my first reaction, also interesting in light of this specifically as it relates to gene expression.

However the practical side could have far reaching and unforseen impacts. Just like anything else. When I first heard of this tech, I thought of the little kids who may end up playing with their toys through the power of intention. Like a muscle that could be developjed, who knows where it could lead. But now this opens up an even broader scope.

Other than that it is just fricken Cool.
Well am I missing something - is this more than the sum of its two components - managing to extract some data from brainwaves - and electrical control of gene expression. They are both interesting, but what is the point of combining them?

David
 
#5
Well am I missing something - is this more than the sum of its two components - managing to extract some data from brainwaves - and electrical control of gene expression. They are both interesting, but what is the point of combining them?

David
Science Dave. And just interesting. If you don't think so, no one really needs to know.

The system functions efficiently and effectively in the human-cell culture and human-mouse system. Fussenegger hopes that a thought-controlled implant could one day help to combat neurological diseases, such as chronic headaches, back pain and epilepsy, by detecting specific brainwaves at an early stage and triggering and controlling the creation of certain agents in the implant at exactly the right time
As well I found this interesting from the biological perspective.

The light-sensitive optogenetic module that reacts to near-infrared light is a particular advancement. The light shines on a modified light-sensitive protein within the gene-modified cells and triggers an artificial signal cascade, resulting in the production of SEAP.
Sorry, should I check with you first, before I share something of interest?
 
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#6
A little closer to home.

The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.
http://www.tunedbody.com/scientists...s-can-cause-specific-molecular-changes-genes/
 
#7
The other related issue I find fascinating. This is pretty big. But no doubt boring for some.

That is now possible, thanks to a new technology developed at MIT and the Broad Institute that can rapidly start or halt the expression of any gene of interest simply by shining light on the cells.
The work is based on a technique known as optogenetics, which uses proteins that change their function in response to light. In this case, the researchers adapted the light-sensitive proteins to either stimulate or suppress the expression of a specific target gene almost immediately after the light comes on.

“Cells have very dynamic gene expression happening on a fairly short timescale, but so far the methods that are used to perturb gene expression don’t even get close to those dynamics. To understand the functional impact of those gene-expression changes better, we have to be able to match the naturally occurring dynamics as closely as possible,” says Silvana Konermann, an MIT graduate student in brain and cognitive sciences.
The new system consists of several components that interact with each other to control the copying of DNA into messenger RNA (mRNA), which carries genetic instructions to the rest of the cell. The first is a DNA-binding protein known as a transcription activator-like effector (TALE). TALEs are modular proteins that can be strung together in a customized way to bind any DNA sequence.

Fused to the TALE protein is a light-sensitive protein called CRY2 that is naturally found in Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant. When light hits CRY2, it changes shape and binds to its natural partner protein, known as CIB1. To take advantage of this, the researchers engineered a form of CIB1 that is fused to another protein that can either activate or suppress gene copying.
http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2013/controlling-genes-with-light-0722
 
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