Gene-Editing Bacteria and Yeast at Home Using CRISPR Kits

DIY bio for the masses



Biologist Josiah Zayner, founder of the Open Discovery Institute (ODIN), is now offering kits via Indiegogo that enables DIY gene-editing of single-celled critters in the comfort of your own home. From the San Jose Mercury News:

On the kitchen table of his cramped apartment, Josiah Zayner is performing the feat that is transforming biology.

In tiny vials, he's cutting, pasting and stirring genes, as simply as mixing a vodka tonic. Next, he slides his new hybrid creations, living in petri dishes, onto a refrigerator shelf next to the vegetables.

And he's packaging and selling his DIY gene-editing technique for $120 so that everyone else can do it, too.

"I want to democratize science," said Zayner, whose left arm is etched with the tattoo "Build Something Beautiful."

It's a prospect that worries those who fear unregulated amateur biologists could unleash new pathogens but delights others who imagine the day when anyone could redesign the living world to create cheap drugs or clean fuels.

Naturally, alarmists are alarmed:

"I do not think that we want an unregulated, non-overseen community of freelance practitioners of this technology," said Stanford University infectious disease expert Dr. David Relman, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation.

Well, tough.

I missed out on the first batch, but I just ordered a kit for editing bacteria. Not available until April, alas. I will let readers know how it works out.