DIY biohackers using CRISPR for complex genome editing not as scary as it sounds #science @NatureNews

Nature has published a news article by Heidi Ledford about the use of CRISPR by recreational biohackers, people who are do-it-yourself biologists for many different reasons (art, fun, culinary). As a genome editing technique, CRIPSR definitely has interesting applications for both good and evil, in terms of biohacking. And the article does a good job exploring these. However, the article implies that CRISPR is feasible for biohackers, only ending with:

But Dan Wright, an environmental lawyer and DIY biohacker in Los Angeles, California, thinks that such a scenario is still beyond the ability of most amateurs. Constructing such a system would surpass the relatively simple tweaks that he and his colleagues are contemplating.

“It’s too difficult,” Wright says. “Just knocking out a gene in one plant is enough of a challenge for a biohacker space at this point.”

As a member of a lab that has used CRISPR for a number of in-depth research applications, I read the whole article with skepticism, and can firmly say that the troubleshooting and time involved in complex uses of CRISPR is definitely beyond most biohackers. At least for the time being. Hopefully the technique will be improved and simplified in the future, for both researchers and biohackers alike.