Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Biohacking Worries

As DIY genetic engineering becomes more popular, the New York Times writes that even biohackers say that the tools could lead to someone getting hurt, either by accident or on purpose.

In recent times, biohackers have injected themselves with edited DNA in hopes of building more muscle or treating herpes or HIV, though to little success, the Times notes. But as more and more people get into it and the online and real-life communities that have sprung up, they too may be able to re-create a virus like horsepox from synthesized DNA fragments, as a team at the University of Alberta reported they did in PLOS One earlier this year.

That, the Times says, highlighted the lax regulation around such genome tinkering.

"I have no doubt that someone is going to get hurt," Josiah Zayner, the biohacker who injected himself with myosin, tells the paper. "People are trying to one-up each other, and it's moving faster than any one of us could have ever imagined — it's almost uncontrollable. It's scary."

It also opens the door for bioterrorists, the Times says. "To unleash something deadly, that could really happen any day now — today," Harvard's George Church tells the Times. "The pragmatic people would just engineer drug-resistant anthrax or highly transmissible influenza. Some recipes are online."