For a small payment of $159, you can unleash your inner mad scientist and alter DNA from the comfort of your own home using CRISPR! (No, not the part of your fridge that keeps produce fresh.)
CRISPR’s carefully crafted acronym stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. If that mouthful put you to sleep, maybe this will pique your interest: it’s a gene editing technology that can create drought-resistant and disease-resistant crops and can even be used to edit human DNA to treat genetic diseases.
The Odin and Ascendance Biomedical distributes gene editing kits from $159, all the way to $1,699, along with different types of equipment and bacteria for additional amounts of money.
It seems crazy that the power to alter a genome is just “purchase” click away. Actually, it is crazy. Don’t worry though, unscrupulous customers won’t be able to create franken-genes in their basement (yet). You can’t actually edit human genes with these kits, but you can manipulate things like yeast and E. coli.
The FDA is not very happy about the prospect of self-administered human gene editing kits, calling the distribution of such DIY products against the law, but companies working on the development of such kits don’t seem to be concerned with to the warning—thus far. The FDA has domain over the approval of medicines and medical devices, umbrellas the bacteria editing kits don’t readily appear to fall under. However, the rapid development of this technology could mean designer babies aren’t a distant reality.