CRISPR at home: Is it really that easy to hack DNA?


I am not a DIY scientist, much less a professional scientist. You won’t find me swabbing my cheek cells for DNA or tinkering with yeast in a lab on the weekend. But I wondered: Is CRISPR so easy that even amateurs like me can make meaningful contributions to science?

I ordered my kit for $130 from the crowd-funding site Indiegogo as part of a campaign created by Bay Area biohacker Josiah Zayner.

The goal: modify the E. coli so that it can grow on an antibiotic called streptomycin, which normally kills bacteria. With materials and instructions from the kit, I will introduce CRISPR into the bacteria cells, and use it to rewrite a tiny part of their DNA, creating genetically altered cells that happily thrive on streptomycin.

I had no problem conducting the experiment—CRISPR is easy, I concluded. I basically just measured, scraped and stirred a bunch of ingredients, occasionally cooling them or heating them up.

Is CRISPR so easy to use that we need to worry about biohackers—either accidentally or intentionally—creating dangerous pathogens? [Professor Dana] Carroll and others think that the danger of putting CRISPR in the hands of the average person is relatively low.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original postMail-Order CRISPR Kits Allow Absolutely Anyone to Hack DNA