Former NASA employee, Josiah Zayner is a scientist who became the first known person to have edited his own DNA. In an effort to make himself superhuman, Zayner used the CRISPR tool to remove the protein Myostatin from an area in his forearm. Myostatin inhibits muscle growth, and so in theory, he should see an increase in muscle growth in this area. Zayner live-streamed the process on his blog “Science, Art, Beauty” and claimed that this was the second time that he had genetically modified himself.
“The point is that we are on the cusp of humanity changing,” said Zayner. “This is the first of many people who will change their genomes. This will happen for medical reasons, for science, athletics or maybe just because people wanted to or were bored.” He went on to say that “This is the first time in the history of the Earth that humans are no longer slaves to the genetics they are born with. As I write this, the FDA is in the process of approving the first human gene therapy treatment. Still, it’s too slow for me, clinical trials have been going on since before 2008. I want to accelerate that. I want people to have a choice about their genetics.”
Though the CRISPR technology is highly regulated in both the US and the UK, it is not illegal for people to self-edit their own DNA. Since Zayner’s live stream, others in the biohacker community are ready to experiment on themselves as they attempt to alter their genes.
Image Credit: The Odin Zinc.