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Support for Biohacking

Hackers may generally be unwelcomed in the tech space, but according to the blog O'Reilly Radar, biohackers may be what's needed to drive innovation in biological research and technology development.

In a post, Mike Loukides compares what is going on in synthetic biology now with what happened with computers four decades ago. He says that computers were around in the 1960s, but their use was limited mainly to "professionals" rather than "enthusiasts." That started to change in the 1970s, however, when a "club" of entrepreneurs, which included Steve Wozniak, one of the founders of Apple, began building their own machines.

Throughout the world, such early innovators democratized computing and set the stage for computers to become a ubiquitous household appliance.

According to Loukides, biohacking is similarly transforming synthetic biology. "It is breaking out of the confines of academia and researching laboratories," he writes, noting GenSpace and BioCurious as significant biohacking hackerspaces in the US.

"A grassroots biohacking community is developing, much as it did in computing" he says, and adds "that community is transforming biology from a purely professional activity, requiring lab coats, expensive equipment, and other accoutrements, to something that hobbyists and artists can do."

Loukides is far from being the only one who sees biohacking as an innovation driver in biological research. In October 2011, Adrienne Burke, a former editor at our sister publication Genome Technology, wrote in Forbes that biohacking was on the rise and changing the scientific landscape.

And as another Daily Scan sister publication PCR Insider reported in February 2011, a pair of biohackers designed an open-source thermal cycler for about $500 and were planning to sell it to do-it-yourself biologists.

The Scan

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Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.

Breast Cancer Risk Gene Candidates Found by Multi-Ancestry Low-Frequency Variant Analysis

Researchers narrowed in on new and known risk gene candidates with variant profiles for almost 83,500 individuals with breast cancer and 59,199 unaffected controls in Genome Medicine.

Health-Related Quality of Life Gets Boost After Microbiome-Based Treatment for Recurrent C. Diff

A secondary analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial data in JAMA Network Open suggests an investigational oral microbiome-based drug may lead to enhanced quality of life measures.

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.