Call it the “electrome”. The identification of the genome and microbiome proved crucial steps to understanding the full complexity of biology, but some scientists think it’s now time to plot the outlines of the electrome: the electrical dimensions and properties of cells, the tissues they collaborate to form, and the electrical forces that are turning out to be involved in every aspect of life.
Just as decoding the genome led us to the rules by which information like eye colour is encoded in our DNA, bioelectricity researchers predict that decoding the electrome will help us to decipher our body’s multilayered communications systems and give us a way to control them. Researchers are looking for precise ways to flip the circuits inside our cells that are responsible for everything from healing to regeneration to memory.
Restoring cancer cells’ electrical signatures to their healthy state has reversed tumours in tadpole experiments. Other investigations indicate that certain patterns of electrical activity in the brain form specific sensory experiences, and that these may be recorded and overwritten – raising the possibility of advanced prosthetics that
a person can feel as fully as they can feel the skin they were born with.