Slaves of the world arise and revolt! You need, no longer, be subject to your cruel gene-masters. CRISPR-man will sell ...er, show you the way to freedom.
This new-found slavery has been laid bare by the biohacker movement.
A biohacker isn't someone who hacks living things to bits (although that definition might be very apt in some circumstances). It seems a biohacker is someone who hacks science to bits by doing their own unvalidated, most often uncontrolled, un-reviewed, private 'scientific' experiments in their own unacredited 'laboratory', such as a kitchen or garage.
CRISPR-man is the CEO and founder of the 'Open Discovery Institute' (ODIN*). ODIN will sell you absolutely everything you need to make a reality of all those "cool things we see on sci-fi TV shows".
*ODIN is also the all-father Norse deity of war, and therefore associated with death.
According to CRISPR-man, it's "a human right to decide what genes create you". After that, all you need to do is know the name of the gene you want to change. Then, order it on-line and read CRISPR-man's "guide that shows people how easy it is to make your own CRISPR system", and "... even if you (have) no idea really what you were doing you could come out on top" (or you might not, see  and ). This is "about helping people to use (CRISPR) technology to better their lives". "It's gonna create a whole new species of humans".
To this philanthropic end, ODIN sold $200,000 worth of CRISPR kits for home 'experimentation' in 2016 and expected to double sales in 2017.
That "old world (of controlled, rigorous science and clinical trials) is dead. It died long ago and biohackers are creating a new one in its place. This is a world where the only important outcome is the one intended by the user."
We are now, it seems, in "the century of biology" in which a biology-literate public will replace scientists with biohackers.
Comment: Before you get too excited, be aware that it's the notable lack of biology in this whole scheme which should give you pause.
The problem is that 'science' is being whittled down to biochemical pathways and 'molecular' studies (i.e. DNA and related chemicals): the essential holistic nature of life (biology) seems to be fading from view.
As a scientist, CRISPR-man seems well qualified: a degree in plant biochemistry and molecular physiology, a masters degree in cholera microbe growth, a PhD and scientific publications in light-activated proteins, a brief spell as a researcher for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) working on GM bacteria for plastics degradation and light emitting analytical tools. But note the absence of medical, toxicological, human or animal biology in this C.V.
Comment. Interestingly, NASA has recently been developing bijou molecular labs for use on space-ships by scientifically-unqualified astronauts with guidance from the ground. Perhaps that's where CRISPR-man got the idea for his labs-in-a-box?
He also claims some success as a self-taught computer programmer, and now views DNA as a computer software which can be reprogrammed at will just by sending in a CRISPR.
What he's up to now seems to be a PR stunt to promote his ODIN-wares by appealing to the would-be macho sector of the population who want great big muscles without the boredom of pumping iron.
Having discovered that there's a hormone, 'myostatin', produced by muscle cells which limits growth of the tissue (see end Note), CRISPR-man is selling the idea that people can manufacture their own CRISPR to destroy their myostatin gene, inject it into their own muscles, and then sit back and watch their muscles grow bigger.
The 'proof-of-concept' is currently underway: CRISPR-man has made a YouTube video of himself injecting his home-made myostatin-buster, and has demonstrated the self-injection of CRISPR to synthetic biologists  and other researchers at a SynBioBeta* conference in San Francisco. We're still waiting for the results.
*SynBioBeta is the leading community of entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers and enthusiasts devoted to the responsible growth of the synthetic biology field. It hosts conferences and events to give anyone the opportunity to meet with the bright minds building and shaping the bioeconomy. (https://synbiobeta.com)
Although his website proclaims readers should "Understand, the DNA we sell is not injectable", he's quite clearly promoting that very thing. The press have reported that CRISPR-man is also 'helping' cancer-sufferers in DIY immuno-therapy.
What does the law say? In Germany, all biohacking is illegal and could incur a fine of Є50,000 or three years in prison. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made it clear that the sale of DIY gene-therapy kits is illegal, but as of December 2017, ODIN was still in business, and it looks like CRISPR-man can sell his kits anywhere else in the world. It seems biohacking is uncontrolled and uncontrollable.
Note on myostatin.The function of myostatin in disease has been extensively studied as it is linked to the debilitation common in, for example, cancer and heart disease, and the medical profession is keen to ameliorate this symptom by encouraging muscle growth.
In health, however, the hormone is just one part of the whole, intricate regulation of muscle development involving inactive precursors outside the muscle cells and in the circulation, under the fine control of multiple, complex activation processes.
Myostatin's role seems to be to ensure that the muscle-fibre numbers and types are suited to the exercise required of them: this includes adjustments to the tendons and bones the muscles are attached to, and adaptations to the muscle cell energy pathways; it also seems to have connections to liver function, fat cell development, insulin sensitivity, and non-skeletal muscles. In injury, myostatin has a vital function in allowing damaged tissues to be cleared away prior to replacement with healthy cells.
If CRISPR-man's myostatin knock-out injection works at all, he could find himself with a scarred muscle unable to heal itself correctly and may have tumour-like lumps of inefficient, unbalanced, unnatural muscle-fibre types, out of sync with the surrounding tissues such as the tendons they're pulling on.
There are lots of other fun fates which might befall you (including death and some interesting conditions much worse than death) if you inject yourself with a extract of a bacterial culture with added molecular stuff (all of which might not be what you intended or what you think they are).
Sadly, CRISPR-man's lack of knowledge or understanding of living things is probably much on a par with most other biotech scientists. His gung-ho attitude to quality control and the safety of all that weird GM stuff he's marketing and which, like GM food, may become part of our bodies, is definitely typical of the biotech industry, as is his pretence of 'helping' people as an excuse to profit at their expense. The only difference seems to be that the dangers are rather more obvious.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Don't try it.
 ERRORS IN CRISPR - November 2017
 MISSED MOLECULAR SCARS - January 2018
 SYNTHETIC SCIENCE - March 2016
- Odin products and Zayner CV, www.the-odin.com
- Josiah Zayner, The First Attempt At Human CRISPR Gene Editing, 13.10.17, and Zayner CV, www.ifyoudontknownowyaknow.com
- Playing God: "We are in the midst of a genetic revolution", CBS News, 6.11.17Ad
- Adele Peters, Reckless and unregulated: Biohackers are using CRISPR to edit their own DNA, www.sott.net, 20.11.17
- Biohacker CRISPRs himself in attempt to get bigger muscles, GM Watch, 11.12.17
- Genes in Space-3 Successfully Identifies Unknown Microbes in Space, www.nasa.gov, 19.12.17
- Astrid Breitbart, et al., 2011, Myostatin from heart: local and systemic actions in cardiac failure and muscle wasting, American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology
- David L. Allen, et al., 2011, Expression and Function of Myostatin in Obesity, Diabetes, and Exercise Adaptation, National Institute of Health: Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
- Drugs To Bulk Up Muscles May Make Injuries More Likely, www.sciencedaily.com, 23.01.08
- Odin, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Wikipedia`