#2. Instantly End an Addiction
OK, so chances are you're not reading Cracked with your smartphone in one hand while using your teeth to tighten a belt around your "shootin'-up arm," but even so, it's probably not news to you that heroin is one of the most addictive substances in the world. But really, it's all our stupid bodies' fault: Chemicals inside us bond to drugs such as heroin, then release happy juice into our systems, to the point that our bodies crash once the drugs are gone and we end up needing more and more of the stuff. If you're one of the unlucky few whose body happens to bond well with illicit arm candy, there's not a damn thing you can do about it ... except for take a pill to block your addiction, if science has its say.
"Pills? I don't know, I'm kind of picky about what I put into my body."
That's right: A bicontinental team of researchers comprised of Aussies at the University of Adelaide and Yanks at the University of Colorado have managed to rewire the brain and successfully unaddict it to heroin (and morphine, for good measure). How did this team of geniuses accomplish what thousands of hours of interventions, rehab stays, and stern talks from jaded guidance counselors never could? Brain hacking.
Which does not involve an ax, as we learned through some tragic accidents.
The researchers noticed that heroin bonded to an immune receptor named Toll-Like Receptor 4 (TLR4), which acts as "an amplifier for addiction." So they developed a drug called (+)-naloxone (presumably named by an accounting computer that moonlights in pharmaceuticals), which once and for all shuts down that TLR4 asshole, thereby changing the chemistry in the brain and disrupting its addictive tendencies.
You'd think that all this tampering about with your noggin juices could lead to some serious complications, like believing that your wife is a toaster or that The Learning Channel is educational, but the new drug appears to target only TLR4, while leaving all the law-abiding neural receptors intact. As explained by one of the lead scientists, "Our studies have shown conclusively that we can block addiction via the immune system of the brain, without targeting the brain's wiring." And as if that weren't enough, this new drug is also a great pain reliever. What do you want to bet it will turn out to be addictive?
His new boat is counting on it.
#1. Modify Your Genes ... With a Lotion
Take a second to imagine a future in which it's possible to modify your genes. What did you see? Doctors injecting fetuses with repaired DNA to cure genetic disorders in utero? Big metal tubes that bombard you with new genes until you're required by law to take up a life of crime fighting? Whatever it was, we'd wager a bajillion bucks right now that you didn't picture hand lotion. Yet, if the folks over at Northwestern University have anything to say in the matter, plain old lotion is exactly where the future of gene therapy lies, because they've invented a cream that -- no joke -- alters your freaking genetic makeup when you apply it to your skin. No futuristic sci-fi machines or lengthy hospital visits or gamma rays are involved -- just a cream that you rub on, which then takes a microscopic jackhammer to your double helix.
Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
And if we know anything about jackhammers, it works best at four in the morning.
Now, typically, the skin is a tough barrier for topical creams to cross. What the geniuses at Northwestern had to do to breach this barrier was load the cream up with compounds of nucleic acids, which are about a thousandth the diameter of a human hair. When you apply the cream, these acid structures spelunk their way through the microscopic cracks in your skin and then Batman the shit out of the evil genes lurking in the dark alleyways of your body. The researchers have tested the cream on mice and human skin, and, after a month of usage, there were no nasty side effects and hardly any superpowered mutant mice.
Although the early targets of this new type of gene treatment are cancers (melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, two of the most common types of skin cancers), the researchers say they can program the cream to target tons of disorders by way of gene alteration. For example, psoriasis, aka the pain-in-the-ass scaly skin disease for which there is no cure, could be treated in this manner. Add pretty much all genetic skin disorders and even freaking wrinkles to the list of possible annoyances a cream like this could treat, and we won't be surprised if your future medicine cabinet is nothing but row after row of lotion bottles. Don't confuse the boner cream with the weight loss cream, Future Man.
"Actually, I might need weight loss down there ..." -Dozens of liars in the comments below
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Speaking of hacking your brain, check out this video from this article's sponsor, Virgin Mobile.