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Biohackers forge ahead with independent, unregulated research

| | February 8, 2018

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Alessandro [Volpato] isn’t a hobby chef, nor is he chemist or an electrician. But he might be a mixture of all of those things, plus a fourth – and the most important – component. He’s a biologist, a “do-it-yourself-biologist,” or a “biohacker.” That’s what the followers of the still small, but worldwide movement, call themselves.

Alessandro is currently working on something called an OpenDrop prototype. It’s a hand-sized, chip-controlled device that will be used to automatically manipulate cells and molecules in the future. This could speed up researching processes enormously.

In Germany, the manipulation of genes or work on multi-resistant germs, for example, is strictly controlled – and is punishable by law for do-it-yourself biologists. That makes Germany different than the US, where it’s possible for anyone to buy a starter kit for genetic experiments on pathogenic microbes for $159 (132 euros). A new method known as “gene scissors” makes gene manipulation relatively simple and inexpensive. There is no law that restricts kitchen genetics.

Alessandro Volpato is still working out the kinks in his own ideas. His OpenDrop prototype didn’t work the way it should have after several attempts. And the machine for reproducing genes is still stuck here and there. He’ll keep on working on it, of course – even without money from the private sector.

Read full, original post: Biohacking – genetic engineering from your garage

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