“I wanted to make a dent in the suffering and death caused by aging…” says one “DIY biologist”. “Of course, there are also DIYers with no ambitions to save the world, who are content to ‘make yogurt glow’ in the basement for their own personal satisfaction!”
And meanwhile, Tyson Anderson, a U.S. Army specialist, is engineering bioluminescent yeast to construct sugar-powered lamps for his friends in Afghanistan!
This article profiles a growing movement – DIY biology – that bypasses the bureaucracies hobbling traditional research to write their own genetic code and even design their own biological systems. (In one lab, the on-site laser was modified from a tattoo-removal system.) But the article predicts that “We will probably see a rise in the number of hobbyists who treat their own bodies as machines to be worked on – like a radio or a car – branching out from personalized genomics to things like DIY stem cell extraction and manipulation, DIY prosthetics, DIY neural prosthetics and sensory enhancements (infrared vision, anyone?), immune system testing, and general tweaking of whatever system strikes the hobbyist’s fancy!”
Right now there’s even a kind of DIYbio Flash mob, where large-scale collaborations come together to investigate “distributed environmental sensing” of microbe patterns around the world!