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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Biohacking - Hacking DNA

The Wall Street Journal has an article today on biohacking.

In Massachusetts, a young woman makes genetically modified E. coli in a closet she converted into a home lab. A part-time DJ in Berkeley, Calif., works in his attic to cultivate viruses extracted from sewage. In Seattle, a grad-school dropout wants to breed algae in a personal biology lab.

These hobbyists represent a growing strain of geekdom known as biohacking, in which do-it-yourselfers tinker with the building blocks of life in the comfort of their own homes. Some of them buy DNA online, then fiddle with it in hopes of curing diseases or finding new biofuels.

Because of cheap access to used equipment on eBay it is possible to perform sophisticated experiments at home. Some see this as the biotech equivalent of the 1970's and 80's when work in a garage could lead to Apple or Dell. Others see it as a threat to national security or even the security of the human race.

If you want to learn more after reading this link:
Video of Craig Venter on creating synthetic Life.
The Futures in Biotech podcast.
Ginkgo BioWorks
Interview with Ginkgo BioWorks founder

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