Biohacking: Hacking goes squishy

September 3, 2009

Biotechnology: The falling cost of equipment capable of manipulating DNA is opening up a new field of “biohacking” to enthusiasts

MANY of the world’s great innovators started out as hackers—people who like to tinker with technology—and some of the largest technology companies started in garages. Thomas Edison built General Electric on the foundation of an improved way to transmit messages down telegraph wires, which he cooked up himself. Hewlett-Packard was founded in a garage in California (now a national landmark), as was Google, many years later. And, in addition to computer hardware and software, garage hackers and home-build enthusiasts are now merrily cooking up electric cars, drone aircraft and rockets. But what about biology? Might biohacking—tinkering with the DNA of existing organisms to create new ones—lead to innovations of a biological nature?

The potential is certainly there. The cost of sequencing DNA has fallen from about $1 per base pair in the mid-1990s to a tenth of a cent today, and the cost of synthesising the molecule has also fallen. Rob Carlson, the founder of a firm called Biodesic, started tracking the price of synthesis a decade ago. He found a remarkably steady decline, from over $10 per base pair to, lately, well under $1 (see chart). This decline recalls Moore’s law, which, when promulgated in 1965, predicted the exponential rise of computing power. Someday history may remember drops in the cost of DNA synthesis as Carlson’s curve. …

Invest in Spain: Business Opportunities in Biotechnology, Pharma and Life Sciences Sector

May 29, 2009


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Florida ranked as top emerging biotech cluster

May 1, 2009

In the U.S., additional emerging cluster contenders include Madison, WI; Orange County, CA; and Houston, TX. Florida and Colorado are …Click Here to Read More

Burnham Researchers Discover On Switch for Cell Death Signaling Mechanism

January 6, 2009

LA JOLLA, Calif., January 5, 2009– Scientists at Burnham Institute for Medical Research have determined the structure of the interactions between proteins that form the heart of the death inducing signaling complex (DISC), which is responsible for triggering apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Florida Creates a Life Sciences Hub

April 15, 2008

For the last several years, Florida has been named by various industry pundits as one of the top biotech regions. …Click Here to Read More

Florida among top five regions targeting biotech

February 20, 2008

…Florida’s willingness to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to attract satellite operations of leading research institutions was one of …Click Here to Read More

Burnham Researchers Illuminate Complex Mechanisms that Regulate DNA Damage Control and Replication in the Cell Cycle

January 5, 2008

LA JOLLA, Calif., January 5, 2008—Scientists at Burnham Institute for Medical Research have demonstrated important new roles for the protein kinase complex Cdc7/Dbf4 or Cdc7/Drf1 (Ddk) in monitoring damage control during DNA replication and reinitiating replication following DNA repair. Since Ddk is often deregulated in human cancers, this new understanding of its role in DNA damage control could help shape new cancer therapies.

Patenting Life by Michael Crichton

February 28, 2007

Click the headline to visit Michael Crichton’s website and view the article…