Biology

Intro to Biohacking

A description of what biohacking it, how average people are doing it, and the bioengineer that is making it economically accessible to the public.

The term “hacking” has become pretty well-known in the modern vernacular. With technology running so much of our lives today, our social media, emails, banking systems, and even governments are vulnerable to hackers gaining unauthorized access to data in a system or computer. But what if we talk about hacking outside of computers or artificial intelligence? What if we start to consider hacking life?

Biohacking is the practice of changing our chemistry and our physiology through science and self-experimentation to energize and enhance the body. Although as the term biohacking has become more known it has started to be used as an umbrella for different ways in changing life, even throughout diet, it specifically was meant to refer to changing genes. Whether in large laboratories or in underground experiments that could take place in one’s bedroom or shed, biohackers are changing the DNA of different organisms to make completely new creations. Or, splicing DNA of different animals to give them different physiological traits.

One example of this is an independent, renegade dog breeder from Kentucky using the DNA of a jellyfish mixed with dog sperm to impregnate one of his female dogs which would result in, glow in the dark dogs. Does this sound too surreal to be possible? Big time government backed labs have already done the same procedure with fish, monkeys, and rats to make them glow in the dark.

You may ask, how does the average person come across the ability or technology to get into biohacking? Well a bioengineer and biohacker by the name of Dr. Josiah Zayner manufactures and sells CRISPR kits for relatively low prices to anyone willing to buy one. CRISPR is family of DNA sequences found within the genomes of prokaryotic organisms such as bacteria and archaea. The CRISPR gene editing tool literally gives individuals the ability to copy and paste genes like a writer would copy and paste content in a word processor.

“I want to help humans genetically modify themselves,” said Zayner in an interview with The Guardian.

Of course, there is more that people can do with these kits than just alter the aertetic of animals. Many biohackers experiment on themselves. While giving a talk on genetic engineering, Zayner pulled out a syringe containing DNA and other chemicals designed to trigger dramatically increased muscle mass and injected the gene therapy into his left arm. The whole thing was live streamed on the internet.

 

 

 

 

By: Alexandria Addesso Kean Univesity, New Jersey.

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