Beginning Biohacking

edited February 2015 in Community
Hi all,

I was just wondering if anyone had an idea on where I should start? There aren't any nearby biohacking groups where I am. I can't afford a thermocycler right now but I should eventually be able to get one. Any resources or projects you guys could recommend would be helpful. 



  • Hello and welcome!

    I'm new here as well, but it seems that Neodymium magnet implants in the fingertips (for the purpose of sensing EMF) are a popular and (relatively) safe way to get started and test your mettle. I'm saving up and sourcing supplies for such an implant currently :)
  • Actually, this forum doesn't seem to have very many people interested in the type of biohacking your referring to ihate. This is really more of a Grinder site than one dedicated to genetic modification. I'm game though.

    You know, a PCR isn't difficult to make. Beyond that... there are a lot kits from places that are great to play around with. For example, there are kits which allow a person to take the bioluminescent genes from a jellyfish and make glow in the dark bacteria etc. No PCR needed. You might start somewhere like Edmund Scientific.

    Honestly, I'd start at a local college. I'm not saying you have to get your masters or anything, but a microbiology course is a great place to start.
  • edited November 2013
    I was going to start a new thread along similar lines, but it looks like I can probably hijack this one instead.

    I'm hoping to working on something and, like IHateUserNames, I need some guidance for where to start. My background is in molecular biology, to the extent that I've done some PCR reactions, a little genetic analysis and gel electrophoresis, and on two occasions genetically modified bacteria with plasmids (once just for the sake of it, once for a professor's cancer research).

    Long story short, I can do some basic genetic engineering. Are there any current or potential mods which could benefit from my input at the moment? As Cassox pointed out, this site doesn't currently have much genetic engineering going on, so I'm struggling to find things to do. I don't currently have a lab set up, so that'd probably be the first step once I get a project to work on. Otherwise I can just lurk around here and wait for potential ideas I can use. (oh, and I'm trying to think of a way to make a glucose based power source using GM bacteria, but it's a little beyond what I can do just yet)
  • Dude, stick around. I'm sure Glims is going to love you. There have been quite a few ideas posted here that I think are pretty cool, such as skin bacteria that exude a scent. I haven't seen people really trying it much though. To be honest, I'd start with something that isn't directly affecting the body. For example, a microorganism that produces some useful chemical or food product. Of course, this HAS been done many times before but I've never heard of it being done "at home." I've got a number of cultures going, like Euglena, Volvox, and Spirogyra. I've always wondered about making an at home bio-filtration air system or something but a'v never gotten around to it.

    Something cool to consider: MAD Insulin. I'm totally going to write up a blog on this at some point. Research is showing the intranasal insulin has some heavy effects on cognition. It doesn't do much for FSBS, but is showing pronounced effect in Alzheimers Dementia. A few studies have shown people to actually recover functions and show a decrease in amyloid plaques. For those who aren't familiar with the AD disease process, this is akin to saying we've made an Aids vaccine that has 100% efficacy, or cured cancer or something. Alzheimers is like the sixth leading cause of death so this is a big deal. Furthermore, intranasal insulin has shown promise as a nootropic. I'll let you read the literature and decide for yourself if you buy it, BUT my subjective experiences have been VERY positive. Do you know how the vast majority of insulin is made?

    GM Bacteria. Sure, you can't buy a prescription drug like insulin OTC, or sell it online, but dude! You culture me some bad ass insulin bacteria and you'll never have to worry about a source again.... more or less.
  • PCR thermocyclers aren't hard to build by yourself for pretty cheap, maybe $100 bucks at the most.  For example, there's the infamous light bulb PCR design that got a bit of attention a couple years ago.
  • Man, that insulin hack would be sweet. I'm going to have to read up on that.
  • Yay! Biohackers!

    Let's see if I can get people excited without crushing any dreams.

    First thing: thermocylclers are old school. No thermocycling needed for the Gibson method :)  Gibson is as easy as recombination gets. I suggest reading up on it.

    There are quite a few heavy reads on modification in the library, if you are interested in thinking big or just to get you in the right frame of mind.

    @Cassox is right. Start brainstorming about things that aren't in the body. in body microbiota modification has this huge roadblock that I would be happy to explain to anyone interested. Any input would be useful. Fresh blood and all that.  The closest to self microbiota modding that you can easily maintain is skin level. But that's a lot to work with.

    I suggest looking through the biobricks website and parts There are a lot of resources for DIY biohackers. Just be advised, resources aren't cheap. 

    insulin making. currently, bacteria is how we make the insulin used in medicine. this means it's already documented and, with money and time, you can do this as well. Once again, making this internal is nigh impossible and n this case, if it did work, dumb.

    I just went to a talk about scaffold design using chitin for implants and replacement organs. This idea, I think, would have a lot of traction in this community. maybe I'll xpost to the bioarmour thread once I explore it further.

    Please, don't be afraid to ask any questions. If it's about bio, feel free to message me directly.
  • Thanks for the suggestions there @Glims, I'll start researching those.
    The Gibson method sounds promising, so hopefully I won't need to bother
    getting a thermocycler. One major problem for me is that I'm moving
    around a fair bit over the next year and a half, but I'll see where and
    when I'll be able to get started.

    And I like that chitin idea,
    I'll make sure to post in the body armour thread if I come up with
    anything useful. I can't find much about biological chitin production,
    but if there's
    only one or two enzymes necessary for it's production then it could be
    viable. Although it seems like keratin would be easier to produce from
    modified bacteria, since it's a protein rather than a polysaccharide.
    I'm in the middle of exams at the moment so shouldn't devote too much
    time to researching this (I have been anyway) but hopefully I'll be more
    productive in a week or so.
  • Wouldn't chitin/keratin fall into the same category as ossification though, with similar risks of migration or growing wrong and screwing up things like movement?
  • @zombiegristle the group using the chitin has been using it for implant scaffolds. There is very little immuno response and very little inflammation. it does not trigger ossification, and actually is being used to repair torn damages knees etc as the chitin seems to encourage healthy growth in the area it is placed.
    Note: this method makes beta chitin, not alpha chitin. flexible, strong, minor elastic properties. 

    keratin, on the other hand, would probably cause many of the issues that we commonly discus when talking about placing things inside oneself.

    instead of making a bacteria that makes chitin, i would suggest actually making a bacteria that makes chitinase. this would be easier and many bacteria already do this, so upgrading would be very straightforward.

    by having a chitinase producing bacteria, one could effectively unlink exisiting sources of chitin (shrimp shells, etc) which are easy to find and would otherwise be waste. The chitin could then be relinked into pieces of the desired size.

  • After a bit of reading (and at first completely misunderstanding your suggestion at first) I think Glim's idea sounds like it has a lot of potential. If we have an organism that produces chitinase we could break down 'scrap' chitin, and hopefully we can find a way to rebuild that into something useful.
    The main questions I can't seem to find the answer to is what is the end result when chitinase breaks down chitin, and are there chitin synthases that work on this substrate?
  • the end result post breakdown is kind of like a chitin pwder, tho before cleaning it would be contaminated and be more like chitin goo.
    just xlink the chitin yourself. It's super easy. i'll get the paper into the library when i am on the computer that has it downloaded

     and consider me corrected. a buddy of mine is making some acetobacterium that grow chitin instead of cellulose. i'm gonna try and get some when he is done. then i will grow chitin slabs for everyone and we can take turns implanting them into @zombiegristle ;)
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