Thursday, March 28, 2019

Your Birthday Gift - Gene Hacking CRSPR

How to be a biohacker.  That was the topic on the CBC radio yesterday.  Can you imagine thinking you could be a genetic engineer by reading an article on the internet?  People carrying out genetic intervention activities are called biohackers.

The person who started this is Josiah Zeyner who live-streamed dosing himself with homemade  DNA intended to genetically enlarge his muscles - this is called CRISPR.  These seem to be more stunts than science as he does these in front of reporters or live-streaming.  For example, he sterilized his body to 'transplant' his entire microbiome in front of a reporter and has attempted to genetically engineer the colour of his skin.

Zayner isn't just an "internet scientist".  He has a PhD in biochemistry and biophysics.  So he's both a biohacker and possibly a professional.  There's potential here for science fiction consequences.

What did the scientist being interviewed on CBC caution about this?  There is always a downside in evolution.  One thing is gained, but something else is lost.  In scientific experiments there has been a loss of immunity in the mice subjected to DNA reeingineering.  

So this is my science fiction scenario.  A wave of biohacking has occurred decades ago.  Human life has been extended by at least 50 years.   There are hundreds of thousands - perhaps millions of 150 year olds.  However, they are living in isolated hospitals because they have no immunity, and they are both frail and demented.  There appears to be no end to their lives - no one is dying. With no expectation of them dying soon,  and society is collapsing under the medical costs, what will happen?  Will euthanasia be voted in as the solution to the problem in the plebiscite coming up? 

So Zayner has achieved his goal. "I see myself as a scientist but also a social activist with some of the experiments I’ve done. Like, how can I do this experiment from a scientific way but also to make people think?"

He certainly got me thinking! Here's more from the Augusta show.

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