For the First Time in History, We’re No Longer Slaves to Our Genetics
Josiah Zayner, the scientist who left NASA to bring genetic engineering to consumers, has edited his DNA to make himself a ‘superhuman’ and live-streamed it all, while he was at it.
Zayner has made the headlines for constantly pushing the boundaries of science outside of traditional environments, whether by injecting himself with a concoction of a donor’s DNA to help get rid of his irritable bowel syndrome, or by brewing glowing beer with the help of jellyfish protein that makes things glow.
This time, the global leader in the biohacker movement claims he’s the first person trying to modify his own genome with CRISPR.
“This is the first time in history that we are no longer slaves to our genetics,” Zayner said, while he removed myostatin, a hormone that inhibits muscle growth, by using the gene cutting technology, CRISPR.
Potentially, this will modify his muscle gene to give him bigger muscles.
“I think we could do substantial changes to ourselves right now.”
“I want to live in a world where people get drunk and instead of giving themselves tattoos, they’re like, I’m drunk, I’m going to CRISPR myself,” Zayner told BuzzFeed News in an interview. “It sounds crazy, but I think that would be a pretty interesting world to live in for sure.”
Other biohackers are also ready to start experimenting by altering own genes, reports New Scientist. “I think we could do substantial changes to ourselves right now,” Zayner said. “You could go a little crazier than scientists have been willing to let on.”
CRISPR researcher Robin Lovell-Badge of London’s Francis Crick Insitute told New Scientist that Zayner’s gene editing is ‘foolish’ and that it could result in long-term problems. But University of Manchester bioethicist John Harrid said: “There’s a long history of scientists experimenting on themselves,” though he warned of adverse reactions.
Zayner’s experiments come at a time when gene therapies are starting to make their way into mainstream healthcare. Earlier this year, the FDA approved the first gene therapy for cancer, that uses a patient’s own immune cells to attack the cancer cells. Two months later, a second cancer-killing gene therapy was approved.
Both of the treatments involves the patient’s white blood cells being taken out of the body and re-engineered to target and kill cancerous cells only in the body. Once this has been completed they are placed back into the patient, and the T-cells get to work and begin combatting against the cancer. CART-cells are built with proteins where they seek out cancer protein cells in the body that they destroy.
Although CRISPR is highly regulated, it’s is not illegal to edit your own DNA. Zayner’s goal is to bring genetic engineering to consumers, and by posting a DIY Human CRISPR Guide online and selling $20 DNA that promotes muscle growth, he’s providing the world with the means they need to become a ‘superhuman’ like him.