science
CRISPR’s Pioneers Find a Way to Use It as a Glowing Virus Detector

CRISPR is at this point well-known for its powerful ability to genetically engineer DNA, but more and more often scientists are turning to CRISPR for other tasks as well. Read More >>

crispr
Scientists Made a ‘Black Box’ for Recording Data From Human Cells

The human body is made up of trillions and trillions cells. And of those trillions of cells, there are hundreds of different types, each with its own specific function, from forming your tissue and organs to reproduction and fighting off infections. They provide structure for the body, take in nutrients, and create energy. Basically, it’s all about the cell. Read More >>

science
New Study Calms Fears That CRISPR Could Trigger Unintended Gene Mutations

Last summer, a letter appeared in a scientific journal that challenged how truly “revolutionary” and world-changing CRISPR gene-editing technology really might be. Researchers found that when they used CRISPR to cure blindness in mice, it had resulted in not just a few but more than a thousand unintended effects. Those unintended changes to DNA, they found, were not detectable using common methods for checking for off-target effects. This, the authors wrote, meant that CRISPR needed significant fine-tuning before it was ready to cure disease in people. Stocks tumbled. The scientific community freaked out. Read More >>

biohacking
CEO Who Tested DIY Herpes Treatment Locks Himself in Lab as Fellow Biohackers Abandon Him

Aaron Traywick, the theatrical CEO of a regulation-averse biotech company called Ascendance Biomedical who recently injected himself with an untested herpes treatment on stage at a conference in Texas, is now at the centre of some major drama in the biohacking community. Read More >>

biohacking
Watch This Guy Inject Himself With an Untested Herpes ‘Cure’

Last Sunday at the BodyHacking Con in Austin, Aaron Traywick joined the rarefied ranks of those who have experimented on themselves in the name of science. Only Traywick is not a scientist—he is the CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, a rogue biotech firm working with biohackers to develop treatments outside of FDA oversight and regulation. Read More >>

science
DARPA Exec Warns Biohackers to ‘Think Deeply’ About Injecting Untested Treatments

On stage at Body Hacking Con last weekend, DARPA (the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) director of biological technologies Justin Sanchez ran through an impressive list of the sort of government projects that might interest people attending a conference about the integration of humans and tech, including plans to prevent global pandemics by turning the body into bioreactor and to restore memory through technologies like brain computer interfaces. Read More >>

science
Why You Can’t Separate Nature from Nurture, Even When Looking at DNA

Your genes are what make you, you, but they’re not the entire picture. In recent years, scientists have been increasingly interested in how our genes interact with other factors like our environment: how nurture influences nature, and vice versa. Your mother might be a champion long-distance runner thanks in part to her genes. Her influence could mean you become a great runner, too—even if you didn’t inherit those genes at all. Read More >>

science
Chinese Scientists Have Successfully Cloned Monkeys for the First Time 

In a major feat, Chinese scientists have cloned monkeys using the same technique that gave us Dolly the sheep more than two decades ago. Read More >>

conservation
The Surprising Way New Zealand Could Soon Solve Its Predator Problem

Early in the morning a few days before Christmas, I was sitting in the living room of my mom’s New Zealand apartment, typing away on my laptop, when a parrot flew up, perched itself on the balcony railing and stared at me expectantly, as if demanding that I bring it a treat. It was a Kaka parrot, a large, greenish-brown bird with a subtly burgundy underbelly that has long been endangered in New Zealand due to forest clearing and invasive possums that compete with the Kaka for food. The bird had tags on its ankle from nearby Zealandia, the city of Wellington’s impressive eco-sanctuary, which has been breeding Kakas since 2002. The last time I had been in New Zealand, the Christmas before, the only Kakas I saw were within the sanctuary walls. At one point, the Kaka was nearly extinct. But recent breeding efforts have been prolific, and now most mornings and evenings, as many as six Kaka perch themselves on my mom’s treetop balcony, squawking, presumably, in celebration of their triumphant comeback. Read More >>

science
The Consumer DNA Testing Market Is Already Booming, but It’s About to Explode

When AncestryDNA sold some 1.5 million of its genetic testing kits over Black Friday weekend, it seemed like clear evidence that after years of being a niche product, consumer DNA testing had finely gone mainstream. The market is expected to keep booming. A new report out from market research firm Kalorama Information estimates that the consumer market for genetic health testing alone could nearly triple from about $99 million (£70 million) this past year to $310 million (£221 million) in 2022. That’s an awful lot of spit. Read More >>

science
These Companies Want You to Sell Your DNA on the Internet

In October 2017, Vadim Pushkarev, a Moscow-based lawyer, uploaded his genetic code to a new service called Zenome that promised him more than just information about his ancestry. This company was offering cryptocurrency. Read More >>

science
The First US Human CRISPR Trials Could Start Any Day Now

The first U.S. human trial using CRISPR to treat disease could kick off any day now. The trials, led by the University of Pennsylvania, will use the gene-editing tool to modify immune cells, prompting them to attack three different types of cancer. Read More >>

science
Should People Be Banned From Genetically Engineering Themselves?

In the past few months, the possibility of do-it-yourself genetic engineering has exited the realm of the purely hypothetical. At a conference last autumn, a well-known biohacker injected himself with a gene to promote muscle growth. Not long after, a 27-year-old software engineer injected himself with an unproven gene therapy for HIV while streaming on Facebook. More DIY attempts at human genetic modification are sure to follow. Read More >>

science
Why CRISPR-Edited Food May Be in US Supermarkets Sooner Than You Think

In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the green light to a version of the plant Camelina sativa, an important oilseed crop that had been genetically engineered using CRISPR to produce enhanced omega-3 oil. What was interesting about this approval was that the USDA did not ask that the inventors of the plant endure the usual regulatory hoops required to sell biotech crops. The next month, a drought-tolerant soybean variety developed with CRISPR also got a quick pass from the USDA. Read More >>

science
How DNA Testing Botched My Family’s Heritage, And Probably Yours, Too

My grandfather was caramel-skinned with black eyes and thick, dark hair, and until he discovered that he was adopted, he had no reason to suspect that he was not the son of two poor Mexicans as he’d always been told. When he found his adoption papers, according to family lore, he pestered the nuns at the Dallas, Texas orphanage where he had lived as an infant for the name of his birth mother. Name in hand, at 10 years old, he hopped a bus to Pennsylvania, met his birth mother, and found out that he was actually Syrian. Read More >>