"Schematic representation of mind-controlled transgene expression
The mind-controlled transgene expression device consisted of (a) an EEG headset that captured brain-wave activities (the encephalogram), identified mental state-specific electrical patterns (biofeedback, concentration, meditation) and processed discrete meditation-meter values (0–100; meditation-meter value plot), which were transmitted via Bluetooth to (b) the Arduino single-board microcontroller with a time-relay device and switching the (c) field generator ON and OFF. This BCI (a–c) controlled (d) the TC (c,d) of the field generator, which inductively coupled with the (d,e) receiver coil (RC) of the (e) wireless-powered optogenetic implant. (e) The NIR light LED illuminated the culture chamber of the wireless-powered optogenetic implant and programmed the designer cells to produce SEAP, which diffused through the semi-permeable membrane. The blood SEAP levels of mice with subcutaneous wireless-powered optogenetic implants containing designer cells that were freely moving on the field generator could be modulated by the human subject’s mindset in a wireless, remote-controlled manner"
Mind-controlled transgene expression by a wireless-powered optogenetic designer cell implant
Synthetic devices for traceless remote control of gene expression may provide new treatment opportunities in future gene- and cell-based therapies. Here we report the design of a synthetic mind-controlled gene switch that enables human brain activities and mental states to wirelessly programme the transgene expression in human cells. An electroencephalography (EEG)-based brain–computer interface (BCI) processing mental state-specific brain waves programs an inductively linked wireless-powered optogenetic implant containing designer cells engineered for near-infrared (NIR) light-adjustable expression of the human glycoprotein SEAP (secreted alkaline phosphatase). The synthetic optogenetic signalling pathway interfacing the BCI with target gene expression consists of an engineered NIR light-activated bacterial diguanylate cyclase (DGCL) producing the orthogonal second messenger cyclic diguanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP), which triggers the stimulator of interferon genes (STING)-dependent induction of synthetic interferon-β promoters. Humans generating different mental states (biofeedback control, concentration, meditation) can differentially control SEAP production of the designer cells in culture and of subcutaneous wireless-powered optogenetic implants in mice.
John S. Ho, Alexander J. Yeh, Evgenios Neofytou, Sanghoek Kim, Yuji Tanabe, Bhagat Patlolla, Ramin E. Beygui, and Ada S. Y. Poon. Wireless power transfer to deep-tissue microimplants. PNAS, May 19, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1403002111
April 4, 2014 Source: University College London
"A new way to artificially control muscles using light, with the potential to restore function to muscles paralyzed by conditions such as motor neuron disease and spinal cord injury, has been developed by scientists at UCL and King's College London.
The technique involves transplanting specially-designed motor neurons created from stem cells into injured nerve branches. These motor neurons are designed to react to pulses of blue light, allowing scientists to fine-tune muscle control by adjusting the intensity, duration and frequency of the light pulses.
In the study, published this week in Science, the team demonstrated the method in mice in which the nerves that supply muscles in the hind legs were injured. They showed that the transplanted stem cell-derived motor neurons grew along the injured nerves to connect successfully with the paralyzed muscles, which could then be controlled by pulses of blue light.
"Following the new procedure, we saw previously paralyzed leg muscles start to function," says Professor Linda Greensmith of the MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases at UCL's Institute of Neurology, who co-led the study. "This strategy has significant advantages over existing techniques that use electricity to stimulate nerves, which can be painful and often results in rapid muscle fatigue. Moreover, if the existing motor neurons are lost due to injury or disease, electrical stimulation of nerves is rendered useless as these too are lost."
Muscles are normally controlled by motor neurons, specialized nerve cells within the brain and spinal cord. These neurons relay signals from the brain to muscles to bring about motor functions such as walking, standing and even breathing. However, motor neurons can become damaged in motor neuron disease or following spinal cord injuries, causing permanent loss of muscle function resulting in paralysis
"This new technique represents a means to restore the function of specific muscles following paralysing neurological injuries or disease," explains Professor Greensmith. "Within the next five years or so, we hope to undertake the steps that are necessary to take this ground-breaking approach into human trials, potentially to develop treatments for patients with motor neuron disease, many of whom eventually lose the ability to breathe, as their diaphragm muscles gradually become paralyzed. We eventually hope to use our method to create a sort of optical pacemaker for the diaphragm to keep these patients breathing."
The light-responsive motor neurons that made the technique possible were created from stem cells by Dr Ivo Lieberam of the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, King's College London.
"We custom-tailored embryonic stem cells so that motor neurons derived from them can function as part of the muscle pacemaker device." says Dr Lieberam, who co-led the study. "First, we equipped the cells with a molecular light sensor. This enables us to control motor neurons with blue light flashes. We then built a survival gene into them, which helps the stem-cell motor neurons to stay alive when they are transplanted inside the injured nerve and allows them to grow to connect to muscle."
Will we have a right to forget by the end of the 21st century as part of a value of cognitive liberty (Boire 2000; Sententia 2004; Bublitz 2013) based on a mind science & braintechnologies of technically enhanced forgetting? What is cognitive liberty other than the right to mental self determination that is to obtain control over one ́s own consciousness, the right to think for her/himself in a not interfered way, choosing what I myself want to belief, to choose what to think and what not to think, to direct one ́s own brain ́s underlying mental processes or capaci- ties as I wish- if not harming others as in crimes against minds (Bubitz/Merkel 2012)- to attend to and to reason about and to remember, and equally important: to change one ́s mind (Bublitz 2013) including to delete what I decide to discard, to forget. In the biocybernetics and “brain politics”(Blank 2013) of the 21st century should we consider as well a right to forget, the right to step outside of pre-controlled feedback loops? May one of our future values be the possibility and mental liberty of even be- coming a mnemonic “idiot”, disconnected from memory/storage? What about the idea depicted in Michel Gondry’ s movie “Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind” in which two people that have had a difficult love relation, decide to call for professional technological help in order to forget one the other while all their friends get the notification of erasure."Clementine Kruczynski has had Joel Barish erased from her memory. Please never mention their relationship to her again. Thank you." Should we, if we could, grant this will -in mutual consent(?)- in making one another forget each other? This science fiction plot seems less fiction than we might think it is: The possibility of a mind science and technology of forgetting seems announced by a 21century neuroscientific interventive and at the moment hyped technology: Optogenetics. Optogenetic methods even beyond its applications in basic neuroscientific research or medical treatment- may be candidates to be used for the manipulation and enhancement of certain brain mechanisms, functions or individual ́s behavior and capacities such as certain memories or forgetting. Thus neurotechnologies in relation to a variety of brain interventions (Müller/Clausen/Maio 2009) in our case optogenetics (Boyden 2011) can be seen as technically induced enhancement tools, that have been already tested in relation to memory /forgetting (Liu 2012) and even the implantation of artificial “fear memories” in rodents/mice (Ramirez 2013). I will briefly survey optogenetic control mechanisms, in which neural activity is “driven or silenced by light” (Boyden 2011) and in the end ask: What consequences would an amplified and intensified application of optogenetic control tools in the human realm have on the future production of subjectivity, and its social, political or legal consequences, specially in relation to an technologically induced “enhancement of forgetting”?
2. What is Optogenetics? In how far has optogenetics to do with control?
Optogenetics combines optical methods (eg flashes of light from a laser or LED) with genetic methods to transfer to a specific group of neurons cDNA encoding proteins sensitive to light of microbial origin (called opsins). This is a breakthrough technology that began its development in 2005 by Karl Deisseroth of Stanford University.
“Optogenetics is a technology that allows targeted, fast control of precisely defined events in biological systems as complex as freely moving mammals. By delivering optical control at the speed (millisecond- scale) and with the precision (cell type–specific) required for biological processing, optogenetic approaches have opened new landscapes for the study of biology, both in health and disease.” (Deisseroth 2010)
In 2010 the journal Nature named it the most important scientific Method of the year. According to its inventor Karl Deisseroth “Optogenetic technology combines genetic targeting of specific neurons or proteins with optical technology for imaging or control of the targets within intact, living neural circuits.“(Deisseroth et al 2006). Optogenetics tools allow the control of electrophysiological properties of neurons in vivo by light, but as well it is used designate not the manipulation but the visual discovery by cell visualization in the optogenetic process.The bases of Optogenetics can be found in the study of a unicellular organism, the alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and its ability to move towards a light source. Peter Hegemann ,Georg Nagel, and Ernst Bamberg, discovered a protein called Channelrodopsin 2 ( ChR2 ) from which this alga makes use to move towards light. By the stimulation with light of 473nm (blue light )[c], the channel ChR2 opens allowing the passage of ions through the cell electrochemical gradient (H + > Na + > K + > Ca +). A few years after this discovery of ChR2, Karl Deisseroth used genetic engineering methods by which he introduced the ChR2 gene in rodent neurons. After 2 months the neurons expressed sufficient levels of ChR2 in the soma and dendrites to allow a single pulse of blue light, directed through an optical fiber, to open ChR2 and allow the influx of Na + into neuron , causing a depolarization of the membrane potential and action potential without affecting the neurons found in the environment that don’t express ChR2 , and as such these neurons are not sensitive to the light beam . That is, when the ChR2 is expressed in the neuronal membrane , it can literally transform light pulses changes in membrane potential, triggering the generation of electrical pulses or potential Action.´
3. Optogenetic as behavioral Remote Control Tool
Different types of Optogenetic Control? Optogenetic tools have since 2005 – that is from the start been declared biotechnological tools of remote controlling behavior such as the manipulation/stimulation of the flight behavior of Drosophila flies as shown in Susana Lima and Gero Miesenböck 2005 article: ”Remote Control of Behavior Resource through Genetically Targeted Photostimulation of Neurons”
“Optically gated ion channels were expressed in circumscribed groups of neurons in the Drosophila CNS so that broad illumination of flies evoked action potentials only in genetically designated target cells. Flies harboring the “phototriggers” in different sets of neurons responded to laser light with behaviors specific to the sites of phototrigger expression. Photostimulation of neurons in the giant fiber system elicited the characteristic escape behaviors of jumping, wing beating, and flight; photostimulation of dopaminergic neurons caused changes in locomotor activity and locomotor patterns. These responses reflected the direct optical activation of central neuronal targets rather than confounding visual input, as they persisted unabated in carriers of a mutation that eliminates phototransduction.“ Lima& Miesenbröck 2005, 141
More on Optogenetic and its ethical implications of this "radical enhancement" tool soon to come...
Alexander Gerner firstname.lastname@example.org
 On the contrary to Carl Craver (see Carl Carver upcoming (under revision) who is preoccupied with the intervention part only and not as well with the visualization part I propose that the introduction of light into cells for the purpose of visualization is already a first step of manipulation and thus a visual methodological enhancement. Thus I distinguish for conceptual reasons a) optogenetic visualization from b) optogenetic intervention in the brain, however ontologically both poles are not to be separated, but co-dependent on each other and have to be seen in coordination.
Electric “thinking cap” controls learning speed by Liz Entman | Posted on Friday, Mar. 21, 2014 — 12:58 PM
Worth reading: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/01/read-zapping-brain/?cid=17378404&fb_source=message
Read This Before Zapping Your Brain
This article presents a model for regulating cognitive enhancement devices (CEDs). Recently, it has become very easy for individuals to purchase devices which directly modulate brain function. For example, transcranial direct current stimulators are increasingly being produced and marketed online as devices for cognitive enhancement. Despite posing risks in a similar way to medical devices, devices that do not make any therapeutic claims do not have to meet anything more than basic product safety standards. We present the case for extending existing medical device legislation to cover CEDs. Medical devices and CEDs operate by the same or similar mechanisms and pose the same or similar risks. This fact coupled with the arbitrariness of the line between treatment and enhancement count in favour of regulating these devices in the same way. In arguing for this regulatory model, the paper highlights potential challenges to its implementation, and suggests solutions.
The importance of Philosophy of Technology for reflecting the consequences of strong AI in relation to humans
"Artificial Intelligence could kill us all. Meet the man who takes that risk seriously
11º Café de Ciência na Assembleia da República
Mexer no Cérebro
Ciência, ética e sociedade
Quarta-feira, 12 de Março de 2014, às 18h
Mais poderoso do que um supercomputador, mas frágil e com pouco mais de um quilograma, o cérebro é ainda largamente desconhecido. Cada um de nós transporta consigo este órgão de enorme complexidade que assegura a nossa capacidade de conhecer, decidir e interagir com o mundo que nos rodeia.
À medida que o conhecimento e a capacidade de intervir no cérebro vão avançando, novas perspectivas de tratamento são criadas. Mas, com a multiplicação de fármacos, a possibilidade de implantar dispositivos médicos e a capacidade de regenerar ou modificar tecidos, surgem também novos riscos e dilemas éticos.
Intervenções indirectas no cérebro, como a educação, os cuidados básicos de saúde ou a alimentação, são socialmente aceites e reconhecidamente contribuem para a potenciação das capacidades cognitivas. No entanto, a intervenção directa no cérebro, numa perspectiva de melhoria cognitiva (em inglês, neuro-enhancement), terá consequências ao nível do indivíduo e da sociedade, que urge ponderar.
Neste Café de Ciência o debate envolve decisores políticos, investigadores, médicos e outros profissionais de saúde, associações científicas, associações de pacientes e responsáveis de empresas.
Terapia e normalidade
Como distinguir intervenções terapêuticas de intervenções para simples melhoramento? Que critérios éticos devem ser estabelecidos para a investigação e aplicações biomédicas não terapêuticas?
Poderá o melhoramento cognitivo exacerbar desigualdades sociais?
Quem assume a responsabilidade pelos que não têm condições de o fazer por si próprios? Poderão os pais melhorar cognitivamente os filhos?
Visão da sociedade
Estamos no limiar de um desenvolvimento sem precedentes do potencial humano, ou apenas da subordinação a uma norma social que elege a competitividade como regra? Que sociedade queremos?
Serão precisas novas normas para regular o melhoramento cognitivo, ou basta transpor as que regem outros sectores das ciências da vida? Poderá o financiamento público ser aplicado na investigação em melhoramento cognitivo?
Que contributos podem os investigadores dar para apoiar as decisões dos legisladores nesta área?
Conselho dos Laboratórios Associados
Alexandre Quintanilha - Secretário
Ana Noronha - Directora Executiva
INSTITUIÇÕES e SOCIEDADES CIENTÍFICAS
Universidade do Porto
IBMC - Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular
INEB - Instituto Nacional de Engenharia Biomédica
Ana Paula Pêgo
Universidade Católica Portuguesa
Instituto de Ciências da Saúde
Alexandre Castro Caldas
Instituto de Bioética
Universidade de Coimbra
CNC - Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular
IBILI - Instituto de Imagem Biomédica e Ciências da Vida
ICNAS - Instituto de Ciências Nucleares Aplicadas à Saúde
Miguel Castelo Branco
IBILI - Instituto de Imagem Biomédica e Ciências da Vida
Universidade de Lisboa
Centro de Filosofia das Ciências
Centro do Sono
Faculdade de Motricidade Humana
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Joaquim Alexandre Ribeiro
Ana Filipa Ribeiro
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Noémia Mendes Lopes
Ana Isabel Fernandes
Universidade do Algarve
Departamento de Ciências Biomédicas e Medicina
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Sociedade Portuguesa de Neurocirurgia
Marcos Daniel de Brito da Silva Barbosa
Sociedade Portuguesa de Neurologia
Vitor Rocha Oliveira
Comissões de ética
Comissão de Ética para a Investigação Clínica
Conselho Nacional de Ética para as Ciências da Vida
Miguel Oliveira da Silva
APIFARMA - Associação Portuguesa da Indústria Farmacêutica
Alzheimer Portugal - Associação Portuguesa de Familiares e Amigos dos Doentes de Alzheimer
APPDAE - Associação Portuguesa de Pessoas com Dificuldades de Aprendizagem Específica
Maria Eduarda de Oliveira Monteiro de Melo Cabrita
FPDA - Federação Portuguesa de Autismo
Isabel Maria Cottinelli Telmo
Ordem dos Enfermeiros
Eurico Castro Alves
Instituto Português do Desporto e da Juventude - Centro de Alto Rendimento do Jamor
Observatório Europeu da Droga e da Toxicodependência
Gonçalo Felgueiras e Sousa
SICAD - Serviço de Intervenção nos Comportamentos Aditivos e nas Dependências
CADin - Centro de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento Infantil
Carlos Nunes Filipe
CENTROS CIÊNCIA VIVA
Centro Ciência Viva de Coimbra
Víctor Gil; Lina Ferreira; Clara San-Bento; João Pires; João Pedroso de Lima
Projecto Escolher Ciência, Pensamento Crítico e Ciência: Uma Viagem ao Método Científico
Escola Secundária de Miraflores
José Rocha (Professor)
Beatriz Velasco Pamplona (aluna 1ªedição projecto); Margarida Gaidão (aluna 1ªedição projecto)
Escola Secundária Dona Luisa de Gusmão
Bruna Fernandes (aluna 1ªedição projecto)