These technologies aren’t necessarily new. The idea of optogenetics, which is a way to control genetically modified neurons with light, was conceived decades ago. It’s only recently, however, that scientists have made significant advances in the precision and consistency of their experiments using the technique. Labs specializing in optogentics have shown that it can influence mood disorders like depression in mice. And it can even be used to stimulate or repress memories.
Self-driving cars are a bit less cerebral. An integrated network of vehicles driven autonomously can communicate in ways human drivers can’t. Robot vehicles will be able to avoid traffic and road closures, choose the fastest routes, and won’t be vulnerable to the distractions humans are tempted with. In the United States alone, there are 30,000 traffic deaths every year, many caused by distracted driving. Self-driving cars hold promise to reduce the number.
A major challenge for the renewable energy sector is finding a reliable method for storing electricity. Solar and wind are effective when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, but these technologies are subject to the whims of mother nature. Next generation batteries, which use aluminum, sodium, and zinc instead of lithium, may offer a solution to the energy storage conundrum and bring clean energy to millions of people who live in remote areas.
Like these emerging technologies, our Organ-Chips have been developed to a point where they are now having an impact on the world. Our platform is designed to emulate human biology more accurately than current cell culture or animal models, and we are currently working with a diverse group of partners to test the way drugs, foods, and chemicals affect human health.