Genetic engineering is coming, and there is no stopping it. Even if it’s outlawed, it will happen as rogue scientists advance the technology. People genetically engineered by legal, or illegal means is coming.
There are fictional examples of genetic engineering gone awry, such as Khan of the Star Trek series and movies. Genetically advanced humans started the “Eugenics War”, in which they were ultimately defeated.
Now, there’s DIY kit for those who feel they were left in the shallow end of the gene pool, and want to modify themselves.
Josiah Zayner, 36, recently made headlines by becoming the first person to use the revolutionary gene-editing tool Crispr to try to change their own genes. Part way through a talk on genetic engineering, Zayner pulled out a syringe apparently containing DNA and other chemicals designed to trigger a genetic change in his cells associated with dramatically increased muscle mass. He injected the DIY gene therapy into his left arm, live-streaming the procedure on the internet.
The former Nasa biochemist, based in California, has become a leading figure in the growing “biohacker” movement, which involves loose collectives of scientists, engineers, artists, designers, and activists experimenting with biotechnology outside of conventional institutions and laboratories, reports The Guardian.
Despite warnings from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that selling gene therapy products without regulatory approval is illegal, Zayner sells kits that allow anyone to get started with basic genetic engineering techniques, and has published a free guide (Click HERE to visit their website.)
for others who want to take it further and experiment on themselves.
According to Technology Review, following wide distribution of the videos, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week issued a harshly worded statement cautioning consumers against DIY gene-therapy kits and calling their sale illegal. “The sale of these products is against the law. FDA is concerned about the safety risks involved,” the agency said.
The agency declined to specify what products it was referring to. Executives at both firms said they might be the target of the warning, but they have not been contacted by the FDA.
In a statement to MIT Technology Review, the FDA said that “information about the agency’s inspection and surveillance activities, including whether the agency is considering action, is generally not made available to the public unless and until enforcement action is taken.”
Experts say any gene therapy prepared by amateurs would probably not be potent enough to have much effect, but it could create risks such as an immune reaction to the foreign DNA. “I think warning people about this is the right thing,” says David Gortler, a drug safety expert with the consulting group Former FDA. “The bottom line is, this hasn’t been tested.”
The problem facing regulators is that interest in biohacking is spreading, and it’s increasingly easy for anyone to obtain DNA over the internet. It’s also easy to get hold of the recipes necessary to carry out gene editing using CRISPR, a potent new technique for modifying DNA.
In October, Zayner’s website began selling $20 copies of a DNA molecule containing the necessary genetic information to deactivate the human gene for a certain protein, myostatin, using CRISPR.
Animals without that gene develop extra-large muscles, so it is frequently cited by biohackers as a target for self-improvement experiments.
Zayner says selling the supplies isn’t illegal because it’s not up to him how people use them. His website warns that the product is “not injectable or meant for direct human use.” Human DNA can be purchased through a number of other companies that cater to research labs. The difference is The Odin markets its DNA to amateur biologists.
“The DNA we sell is kind of to inspire people, and maybe people will buy the DNA and use it. I don’t really have a problem with that,” says Zayner. He said he won’t stop selling any of his products in light of the FDA’s statement last week.
Curious how to genetically engineer yourself? Click HERE.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
December 26th, 2017
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