What Does a Healthy Future Look Like?

What will we have done to our bodies, networks, and environments to improve our collective wellness? The following is a list of ideas collected by IFTF when they asked the world:

1. The Fecanator! Synthetic bacteria designed to help humans life on less food and produce less waste.

2. Thermo/visual gamma wave feedback monitor to help deepen meditation practices.

3. An easier-to-use operating system to help fight senior loneliness.

4. Heart Helper glove that squeezes hands to assist the heart in moving blood around.

5. A network of local fitness specialists that compete for your needs.

6. Condoms for Africa that incorporate features of traditional amulets.

7. A plan for expanding the practice of daily hugs to improve well-being.

8. Safer hospitals infected with good bacteria to out-compete the bad ones that often breed in hospitals.

9. A social, smart phone application to collect data and analyze personal health trends.

10. A videogame-style display to help people manage stress and maintain a healthy life.

11. Reversible Fertility Vaccine based on synthetic bacteria living in the reproductive system.

12. Paleo Approved Label to facilitate the practice of ancestral eating.

13. Simple adoption of bowing instead of shaking hands to reduce flu spread.

14. Software that can create 3-D cell-organ models from MRI data.

15. Healthy homes that include smart refrigerators, toilet analysis, and glucose meters.

Source: IFTF

Demand For Genetic Testing

The demand for genetic testing in the United States continue to grow. According to Bradley Kreit of IFTF, It’s likely that getting a genetic scan will become a routine part of growing up–not too different from an eye exam or a physical.

However, the direct-to-consumer genetic testing are more difficult and time consuming to explain, since with only a handful of exceptions, genes don’t predict disease, but instead offer probabilities that certain diseases are more or less likely. As a result some think that the test results are misleading and of little use to consumers.

The FDA has also started notifying genetic testing companies that direct-to-consumer genetic testing qualifies as a “medical device” which could potentially subject genetic testing to federal regulation. Whether or not these tests get regulated–and what those regulations could look like–are obviously open questions.

At the same time, it’s unlikely that even the strictest regulations would spell the end of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. In other words, the future of regulating genetics is up in the air, but demand for testing in the United States–regardless of what regulatory decisions get made–is likely to continue to grow.

Daniel MacArthur, who just launched Genomes Unzipped with Vorhaus, has a very insightful take about where we might see this demand finding its supply: Singapore and China!

It’s no more difficult to send a vial of saliva from Texas to California than it is to send one from Texas to China. Which is another way of saying that the genetic testing will be around, regardless of what happens in the regulatory sphere in the United States. You won’t take your kid to a community center or school to find out those genetic risk probabilities; you’ll walk over to the computer and Skype over to India or China for a counseling session….

Source: Bradley Kreit, IFTF July 26, 2010

Romantic Rejection Stimulates Different Areas in Brain

The pain and anguish of rejection by a romantic partner may be the result of activity in parts of the brain associated with motivation, reward and addiction cravings, according to a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology.

The participants said they spent more than 85% of their waking hours thinking of the person who rejected them, they yearned for the person to return and they wanted to get back together. The researchers found that looking at photographs of the participants’ former partners stimulated several key areas of the participants’ brains more than looking at photos of neutral persons did. Theses areas are:

  • the ventral tegmental area in the mid-brain, which controls motivation and reward and is known to be involved in feelings of romantic love
  • the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal/prefrontal cortex, which are associated with craving and addiction, specifically the dopaminergic reward system evident in cocaine addiction, and
  • the insular cortex and the anterior cingulate, which are associated with physical pain and distress.

The researchers note that their findings supply evidence that “the passion of ‘romantic love’ is a goal-oriented motivation state rather than a specific emotion” and that their results are “consistent with the hypothesis that romantic rejection is a specific form of addiction.” Those who are coping with a romantic rejection may be fighting against a strong survival system that appears to be the basis of many addictions. The data help to explain why the beloved is so difficult to give up.

The researchers also found that the greater the number of days since the rejection, the less activity there was in the area of the brain associated with attachment. Also, areas associated with reappraising difficult emotional situations and assessing one’s gains and losses were activated, suggesting that rejected individuals are trying to understand and learn from their difficult situation–what could be an adaptive response to rejection. If attachment responses decrease as the days go by and falling out of love is a learning process, there could very well be physiological evidence that time heals all wounds.

Source: Brain Mysteries July, 10 2010