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The Garage Lab

A news story at Nature looks into "bio-hackers," people who are setting up biology labs in their garages, basements, or kitchens. "For now, most members of the do-it-yourself, or DIY, biology community are hobbyists, rigging up cheap equipment and tackling projects that … are creative proof of the hacker principle," Heidi Ledford reports, though Rob Carlson, a main figure in the field, says that it could lead to a change in the marketplace. Ledford adds that the FBI " has adopted what some call a 'neighbourhood watch' stance" toward the DIYbio community.

An accompanying editorial says that "science is a professional business," but that "citizen science can help stimulate public support for science, and can introduce fresh ideas from novel disciplines" and "it would be a shame if the only interested knock on the hobbyists' doors came from those in law enforcement."

At his blog, Derek Lowe adds his thoughts. "Scientific research is most definitely not a members-only club; anyone who thinks that they have an interesting idea should come on down," he writes. "So while I do worry about the occasional maniac misanthrope, I think I'm willing to take the chance."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.