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Stunt Remorse

Biohacker Josiah Zayner tells the Atlantic that he regrets injecting himself with the CRISPR gene-editing tool on stage.

In the fall at the SynBioBeta conference, Zayner injected himself with the CRISPR/Cas9 editing system targeted to myostatin gene. At the time, he said the goal was to end the discussion as to whether or not people should genetically modify themselves. But the Atlantic notes that when Zayner saw the CEO of Ascendance Biomedical do something similar with an untested herpes treatment, he was uneasy.

The Atlantic notes that the difference between biohackers and professional scientists is that biohackers take on projects that are hard to do within the framework of traditional science, but that now companies like Ascendance — which has since shuttered — were taking a biohacking approach when it might not have been necessary.

Zayner, who has a PhD in biochemistry and biophysics and runs a company called The Odin that sells CRISPR kits, says he blames himself. "What it's turned into now, people view it as a way to get press and get publicity and get famous," he tells the Atlantic. "And people are going to get hurt. There's no doubt in my mind that somebody is going to end up hurt eventually."