According to a New York-based geneticist, our genes could soon be remote-controlled. Sarah Stanley, a research associate at New York’s Rockefeller University, was able to trigger a synthetic gene to produce insulin inside a mouse by shooting radio waves at it from a distance of 1cm. Stanley says that the method could be used to treat humans with rare protein deficiencies such as Tay-Sachs disease. “This would be an alternative way to make proteins in the right place, at the right time,” she says. To control a gene remotely, Stanley used several proxies. “We took simple iron nanoparticles which heat up when radio waves are beamed on them,” she says. Next, she attached the nanoparticle to a heat-sensitive channel within a cell - so that when the radio wave hits, the hot nanoparticle triggers the channel to open. The open channel wakes up the cell: it flushes in calcium and activates genes to produce special proteins. Stanley’s next challenge: to use radio waves to guide drug molecules into hard-to-reach places, such as the innermost parts of the brain.