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Surprising Science

2013 Will Be the Year of Genetics and Brain-Computer Interface

Advances in human genome sequencing and brain-computer interface will help medical professional diagnose disease earlier and develop new technology for more direct treatments. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Gene-based medical treatments are edging closer to reality as the cost of sequencing an entire person’s genetic code nears the $1,000 mark. Once below that price, sequencing procedures will be considered ripe for public consumption. Still, there remains one major roadblock. Interpreting the data taken from sequencing machines has yet to translate into concrete medicine. As prices drop, however, businesses become more likely to invest in data interpretation, hopefully resulting in treatments. Two branches of medicine where investment is showing particular promise are reproductive medicine and cancer.

What’s the Big Idea?

Our ability to fuse mind and machine also took big steps forward this year. “Scientists in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, demonstrated that a brain implant could replace some cognitive function in primates, which could one day help people with brain damage. … Brain electronics were also implanted into Alzheimer’s patients this year in an attempt to slow a disease that has so far evaded pharmaceutical treatment.” The two technologies–genetic sequencing and brain-computer interface–will intersect if sequencing procedures can provide early diagnoses for physical and mental diseases. 

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