We may be approaching the age of the personal biology lab but there are some major hurdles still in the way. Unlike amateur astronomy or amateur programming, amateur bio-technology needs a lot of equipment and supplies. To that end, certain members of the DIYbio community have worked tirelessly to provide cheap, simple, and hackable versions of lab necessities (open hardware electrophoresis gel box, open polymerase chain reaction thermocycler, spectrofluorometers, microfliuidic systems, and centrifuges).
Hardware might be easy to acquire compared to biological samples. You can test your own cells from spit, you can take bacterial samples from the environment but if you really want to do advanced biotech you’ll need DNA samples from hard to obtain more interesting micro-organisms that can be dangerous substances. The last Open Science Summit had a big panel discussion about biosecurity. One solution could be the community labs like the Biocurious in the San Francisco Bay Area.
One day DIY biology could become a true research partner for industry. When we can engineer cells the way we engineer computers, individuals working at home or in community labs could make their own important advancements. Just like amateur computer programmers do now.
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