Biohacking

Biohacker Attempts Editing His DNA With CRISPR

From This Guy Says He’s The First Person To Attempt Editing His DNA With CRISPR

the biohacker claims he’s the first person trying to modify his own genome with the groundbreaking gene-editing technology known as CRISPR. And he’s providing the world with the means to do it, too, by posting a “DIY Human CRISPR Guide” online and selling $20 DNA that promotes muscle growth.

But editing your DNA isn’t as simple as following step-by-step advice. Scientists say that injecting yourself with a gene for muscle growth, as Zayner’s done, won’t in fact pump up your arms. Zayner himself admits that his experiments over the last year haven’t visibly changed his body. There are safety risks, too, experts say: People could infect themselves, or induce an inflammatory reaction.

But to Zayner, whether or not the experiment actually works is besides the point. What he’s trying to demonstrate, Zayner told BuzzFeed News, is that cutting-edge biology tools like CRISPR should be available to people to do as they wish, and not be controlled by academics and pharmaceutical companies.

The point is not if it’s legit or not, effective or not, legal or not. The point is that there is a growing community of humans that is experimenting, tinkering, and taking risks with their bodies, trying to achieve things that the mainstream audience considers horrifying, impossible, out of reach. This community doesn’t have much credibility today, just like IT security hackers didn’t have much credibility in the early days of the Internet. Today, hacking communities are recruiting pools by top military organizations in the world, and hacking conferences are a prime stage for the biggest software and hardware vendors on the market.

Lost in a sea of pseudo-scientists, impostors, scammers, and amateur wannabe, there are a few serious, determined, fearless explorers of the human body. They won’t look credible until they will.

If we increase human empathy by 30 percent, would we still have war?

From The Biomechatronic Man | Outside Online

On it are the PowerPoint slides of his next big project, a breathtaking $100 million, five-year proposal focused on paralysis, depression, amputation, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease. Herr is still trying to raise the money, and the work will be funneled through his new brainchild, MIT’s Center for Extreme Bionics, a team of faculty and researchers assembled in 2014 that he codirects. After exploring various interventions for each condition, Herr and his colleagues will apply to the FDA to conduct human trials. One to-be-explored intervention in the brain might, with the right molecular knobs turned, augment empathy. “If we increase human empathy by 30 percent, would we still have war?” Herr asks. “We may not.”

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The idea of an endlessly upgradable human is something Herr feels in his bones. “I believe in the near future, in a decade or two, when you walk down the streets of Boston, you’ll routinely see people wearing bionic systems,” Herr told ABC News in a 2016 interview. In 100 years, he thinks the human form will be unrecognizable. The inference is that the abnormal will be normal, beauty rethought and reborn. Unusual people like Herr will have come home.

FDA approves reprogramming a patient’s own blood cells to fight cancer

From First lab-made cancer-hunting blood cells approved by the FDA – The Verge

The first cancer treatment that involves reprogramming a patient’s own blood cells to fight cancer has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, leading the way for federal approval of other, similar efforts.

Kymriah is manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Novartis AG to treat children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). It’s shown very encouraging results in clinical trials, but the price tag will be hefty: Analysts say it will cost “a fortune,” or maybe $700,000 for one course of treatment.

Kymriah is one type of so-called CAR-T cancer therapies. First, doctors take the patient’s white blood cells, or T cells, out of the body and add a special receptor called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). The receptor gives the T cells the ability to attack cancer cells. Then, these engineered cells are put back into the body. It’s a highly personalized form of medicine, since each dose must be tailored to the patient.

Stanford Researchers Create Organic Electronic Components That Dissolve Into The Body

From Scientists unveil ultra-thin electronics that can dissolve into the body

the team’s inventions include a biodegradable semi-conductive polymer, disintegrable and flexible electronic circuits, and a biodegradable substrate material for mounting these electrical components onto.

Totally flexible and biocompatible, the ultra-thin film substrate allows the components to be mounted onto both rough and smooth surfaces.

All together, the components can be used to create biocompatible, ultra-thin, lightweight and low-cost electronics for applications as diverse as wearable electronics to large-scale environmental surveys.

Maybe this is one of the many approaches we’ll use for biohacking or as wearable technology in the future.

SetPoint Medical Working On a Device That Emits Electrical Pulses To Treat Arthritis

From The shock tactics set to shake up immunology : Nature

The human vagus nerve contains around 100,000 individual nerve fibres, which branch out to reach various organs. But the amount of electricity needed to trigger neural activity can vary from fibre to fibre by as much as 50-fold.

Yaakov Levine, a former graduate student of Tracey’s, has worked out that the nerve fibres involved in reducing inflammation have a low activation threshold. They can be turned on with as little as 250-millionths of an amp — one-eighth the amount often used to suppress seizures. And although people treated for seizures require up to several hours of stimulation per day, animal experiments have suggested that a single, brief shock could control inflammation for a long time10. Macrophages hit by acetylcholine are unable to produce TNF-α for up to 24 hours, says Levine, who now works in Manhasset at SetPoint Medical, a company established to commercialize vagus-nerve stimulation as a medical treatment.

By 2011, SetPoint was ready to try the technique in humans, thanks to animal studies and Levine’s optimization efforts. That first trial was overseen by Paul-Peter Tak, a rheumatologist at the University of Amsterdam and at the UK-based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. Over the course of several years, 18 people with rheumatoid arthritis have been implanted with stimulators, including Katrin.

For the images of the actual device, check Core77. They also have implantable bioelectronic devices.

Multi-functional Flexible Aqueous Sodium-Ion Batteries with High Safety

From Multi-functional Flexible Aqueous Sodium-Ion Batteries with High Safety

The development of wearable and implantable electrical devices has been in great demand recently. However, most existing energy storage systems are based on strong corrosive or toxic electrolytes, posing a huge safety hazard as a result of solution leakage.

Here, we have developed a family of safe and flexible belt- and fiber-shaped aqueous sodium-ion batteries (SIBs) by using various Na+-containing aqueous electrolytes, including Na2SO4 solution, normal saline, and cell-culture medium. The resulting SIBs exhibit high flexibility and excellent electrochemical performance and can be safely applied in wearable electronics. Flexible SIBs with normal saline or cell-culture medium as the electrolyte showed excellent performance, indicating potential application in implantable electronic devices.

In addition, the fiber-shaped electrode in normal saline or cell-culture medium electrolyte can consume O2 and change the pH, implying promising application in biological and medical investigations.

Chinese Researchers Explore Batteries Powered by Body Fluids 

From Go ahead and cry — your tears might power the batteries of the future – The Verge

In a lot of the flexible batteries out there, these electrolyte solutions are made out of strong acids or toxic chemicals, the study says. That stuff is corrosive, flammable, or toxic, and you definitely don’t want it dribbling onto or into your body. That’s why scientists at Fudan University in China came up with a way to replace these toxic electrolyte solutions with something much less harmful.

The researchers experimented with a few different types of electrolyte solutions. The one that worked best was sodium sulfate, which is sometimes used as a laxative. But saline solutions, which are literally diluted salt water, also worked well. Eventually, bodily fluids like blood, sweat, or tears might take over the roll of the electrolyte solution to power medical implants, the study says.

MIT Researchers Record Sleeping Brain Activity Wirelessly

From What Comes After Wearables? Try “Invisibles”

a group of researchers at MIT have developed a remote sleep sensing system that uses radio waves to capture data about your brain waves while you sleep–and AI to read them–without ever touching your body. It consists of a laptop-sized wireless device that emits radio signals. When put in the user’s bedroom, the waves detect even the slightest movement of the body. The system doesn’t just do the job of a sleep-tracking wearable without the wearable; it also just provides data at a similar level of accuracy as a sleep lab.

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In order to cut out all the extraneous information her system records, she developed a machine learning algorithm that can extract sleep stages–light, deep, and REM sleep–out of the mess of data. The algorithm was trained on a sleep dataset of 25 individuals for a total of 100 nights of sleep, taken using an FDA-approved device that uses EEG to record brain waves.

The results are 80% accurate

Viome Analyses RNA Of Gut Microorganisms To Identify Chronic Illnesses

From Viome raises $15 million to analyze your gut and give you health tips | VentureBeat

Viome, a startup that does RNA analysis of all living organisms in the gut, today announced funding of $15 million to create unique molecular profiles for its customers by identifying and quantifying all the microorganisms that live in the gut. These include bacteria, viruses, yeast, mold, and fungus.

Viome uses artificial intelligence to analyze these results and figure out what’s going on in your gut — certain imbalances can cause chronic illnesses, according to Viome’s cofounder and CEO, Naveen Jain.

“There are other companies out there that can analyze your microbiome, but they use 16S testing, which only looks at a portion of bacteria and only at a genus level (any two people have 95 percent similarity in their microbiome at a genus level),” Jain wrote in an email to VentureBeat. “We look at all living organisms at a strain level and also understand what they are doing.”

The cost of a cognitive prosthetic will pale in comparison to taking care of a person with dementia for 20 years

From We Will End Disability by Becoming Cyborgs – IEEE Spectrum

It’s quite possible that Alzheimer’s patients of the future will be equipped with memory prosthetics derived from the devices being invented in Berger’s lab today. His work began with delicate electrodes inserted into a rat’s hippocampus, the brain structure responsible for encoding memory. Berger first deciphered the relationship between the input signals from neurons that process a brief learning experience—for example, which lever a rat should press to gain a sip of sugar water—and the output signals from neurons that send the information on to be stored as a memory.

Once he had mapped the correlations between the two electrical patterns, Berger could record an input signal and predict the output signal—in other words, the memory. He didn’t need to know which part of the input pattern coded for the dimensions of the lever or for the taste of the sweet reward. He simply mathematically generated the output signal and sent it to the memory-storage neurons. “It’s like translating Russian to Chinese when you don’t know either language,” Berger says. “We don’t want to know either language; we just want to know how this pattern becomes that pattern.”

Berger proved that he could implant the memory of the lever-and-reward test in a rat with a damaged hippocampus that was unable to form memories on its own. Even more remarkable, he implanted the memory in a rat that had never before undergone the test or seen the levers. The rat entered the test chamber for the first time, pressed the correct lever, and sucked down the sweet nectar.

Bioresorbable silicon electronic sensors for the brain

From Bioresorbable silicon electronic sensors for the brain – Nature

Many procedures in modern clinical medicine rely on the use of electronic implants in treating conditions that range from acute coronary events to traumatic injury. However, standard permanent electronic hardware acts as a nidus for infection: bacteria form biofilms along percutaneous wires, or seed haematogenously, with the potential to migrate within the body and to provoke immune-mediated pathological tissue reactions. The associated surgical retrieval procedures, meanwhile, subject patients to the distress associated with re-operation and expose them to additional complications.

Here, we report materials, device architectures, integration strategies, and in vivo demonstrations in rats of implantable, multifunctional silicon sensors for the brain, for which all of the constituent materials naturally resorb via hydrolysis and/or metabolic action, eliminating the need for extraction. Continuous monitoring of intracranial pressure and temperature illustrates functionality essential to the treatment of traumatic brain injury; the measurement performance of our resorbable devices compares favourably with that of non-resorbable clinical standards.

In our experiments, insulated percutaneous wires connect to an externally mounted, miniaturized wireless potentiostat for data transmission. In a separate set-up, we connect a sensor to an implanted (but only partially resorbable) data-communication system, proving the principle that there is no need for any percutaneous wiring. The devices can be adapted to sense fluid flow, motion, pH or thermal characteristics, in formats that are compatible with the body’s abdomen and extremities, as well as the deep brain, suggesting that the sensors might meet many needs in clinical medicine.

How Silicon Valley is Trying To Defeat Aging

From Is Elysium Health’s Basis the Fountain of Youth? — Science of Us

Others who’d taken Basis before me had described effects including fingernail growth, hair growth, skin smoothness, crazy dreams, increased stamina, better sleep, and more energy. Once I began taking it, I did feel an almost jittery uptick in mojo for a few days, and I slept more soundly as well. Then those effects seemed to recede, and there were also mornings where I felt a little out of it. If these were placebo effects, they were weird ones, because they didn’t make me feel better, only different.

and

Because the two active compounds in Basis, pterostilbene and NR, are natural (occurring in blueberries and milk, respectively) and have long been available separately as supplements, Elysium has been able to skip the FDA gauntlet and sell its capsules immediately.

The agility that comes with bypassing federal regulation has an obvious cost: Guarente and his advisory board are the only scientific credibility Elysium can claim. The company stresses that it is using only compounds supported by hundreds of peer-reviewed papers, that it enforces high manufacturing standards, and that it is conducting a human trial (currently 120 people between the ages of 60 and 80 are participating).

but most importantly

A large number of men who have made fortunes in Silicon Valley believe so — or at least are trying to recast aging as merely another legacy system in need of recoding. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison’s Ellison Medical Foundation has spent more than $400 million on aging research. In 2013, Alphabet’s Larry Page announced a moonshot life-extension project called Calico, and XPrize founder Peter Diamandis partnered with genome sequencer J. Craig Venter to found a competing company called Human Longevity Inc. Paul F. Glenn, an 85-year-old venture capitalist who watched his grandfather die of cancer, launched an aging-science foundation more than 50 years ago that has since funded a dozen aging-research centers around the country. Peter Thiel is 37 years Glenn’s junior but equally desperate to find a death cure: He has given at least $3 million to the Methuselah Foundation, the research vehicle for the extravagantly bearded, Barnumesque immortality promoter Aubrey de Grey. Thiel has also said he takes a daily dose of human growth hormone, and he was reported to have seriously explored the transfusion of blood from the young to the old.

Omega Ophthalmics turning the human eye into a platform for AR

From Omega Ophthalmics is an eye implant platform with the power of continuous AR | TechCrunch

… lens implants aren’t a new thing. Implanted lenses are commonly used as a solve for cataracts and other degenerative diseases mostly affecting senior citizens; about 3.6 million patients in the U.S. get some sort of procedure for the disease every year.

Cataract surgery involves removal of the cloudy lens and replacing it with a thin artificial type of lens. Co-founder and board-certified ophthalmologist Gary Wortz saw an opportunity here to offer not just a lens but a platform to which other manufacturers could add different interactive sensors, drug delivery devices and the inclusion of AR/VR integration.

Maybe there’s a surprisingly large audience among the over 60 that is willing to try and get a second youth through biohacking. Maybe over 60s will become the first true augmented humans.

Three Square Market has an NFC microchip implant for identification, login and payment

From A Wisconsin company will let employees use microchip implants to buy snacks and open doors – The Verge

A Wisconsin company called Three Square Market is going to offer employees implantable chips to open doors, buy snacks, log in to computers, and use office equipment like copy machines. Participating employees will have the chips, which use near field communication (NFC) technology, implanted between their thumb and forefinger.

They’re essentially an extension of the chips you’d find in contactless smart cards or microchipped pets: passive devices that store very small amounts of information.

149 research papers on brain augmentation

From Augmentation of Brain Function: Facts, Fiction and Controversy | Frontiers Research Topic

Augmentation of brain function is no longer just a theme of science fiction. Due to advances in neural sciences, it has become a matter of reality that a person may consider at some point in life, for example as a treatment of a neurodegenerative disease. Currently, several approaches offer enhancements for sensory, motor and cognitive brain functions, as well as for mood and emotions. Such enhancements may be achieved pharmacologically, using brain implants for recordings, stimulation and drug delivery, by employing brain-machine interfaces, or even by ablation of certain brain areas.

I plan to review all of them.

HVMN: Our core belief is that the human is a system that can be quantified, optimized, and upgraded.

From Nootrobox is now HVMN – THINKING

what does it means to be human in a future molded by automation, robots, and artificial intelligences ?

and

Our core belief is that the human is a system that can be quantified, optimized, and upgraded. Like any system (regardless of its origin as biological, mechanical, or computational), the human has inputs and outputs. HVMN develops inputs into the human system to optimize for key biometrics including cognitive, physical, and metabolic output.

While our rhetoric and our techniques may be modern, the fundamental human drive to improve oneself is not. The same instincts that drove Egyptian pharaohs, Spanish conquistadors, and Chinese emperors to seek enhancement drive modern biohackers.

Andreessen Horowitz is backing this startup. Worth watching.