Biohacker Genetically Modifies Himself to Be “Big and Muscly”
By Markab Algedi, Natural Blaze
Mainstream media is reporting that “biohacker” Josiah Zayner attempted genetically modifying himself with a CRISPR gene editing kit he purchased online, to have “bigger muscles.”
He tried to genetically engineer himself by injecting his forearm with a plasmid – a strand of DNA containing the gene that codes for a genome called Cas9 – actually editing the protein “and its guide RNA targeted to the myostatin gene,” according to GM Watch.
Like an allopathic surgery of the 20th Century, he tried to interrupt a necessary function in the encoding of his DNA by removing the gene that encodes his myostatin protein. The myostatin protein is a necessary gene to ensure a person’s muscles know when to stop growing, like an end-sequence so they don’t become ridiculously large and throw the function of the body off.
Surely there is a consequence to simply erasing a gene that stops your muscles from growing unchecked. It’s like removing the periods or question marks from every sentence in a book and expecting the book to still make sense.
Wouldn’t the body’s resources that are used to build muscle be drained an excessive amount? Wouldn’t some other part of the body suffer for the energy that is diverted to building unnecessary muscle mass?
In any case, Josiah Zayner seems to have no regard for consequence on the matter. According to GM Watch:
“When animals are genetically modified with CRISPR, the genome of the early-stage embryo is altered so that as the cells divide and replicate, the genetic modification spreads throughout the developing foetus. Clearly this process was not available to Zayner because he is no longer an embryo. Hence his attempts to modify his muscle using localised injections.
We asked London-based molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou, who uses genetic engineering to develop gene therapies, whether Zayner’s method would work in giving him bigger muscles.
Dr Antoniou said, “It’s virtually impossible that Zayner will achieve his desired outcome. Has he biopsied himself and done the molecular genetic analysis to show that the CRISPR knockout of the myostatin-coding gene actually took place?”
Dr Brian Hanley, a microbiologist who founded Butterfly Sciences, a company that develops gene therapies, was less diplomatic about the credibility of Zayner’s claims for his product. He said, “Either Josiah Zayner is ignorant or he is deliberately misleading people. What he suggests cannot work as advertised… I have to wonder if he knows what he’s telling people is baloney.”
So it really amounts to a publicity stunt, but there is info to be gained from it. Apparently there are hipster biohackers on the loose now.
He explained what he was trying to do, while probably knowing it wouldn’t work to the effect that the announcement would imply:
“Do I wanna be big and muscly? Do I wanna – you know, my muscles have, like, high endurance? Do I want to have dark colour skin or light colour skin or whatever you want. I think now is the starting place of where we get to make those choices.
I think we are in the midst of a genetic revolution. I think this is, like, literally, a new era of human beings. It’s gonna create a whole new species of humans.
I want to live in a world where people are genetically modifying themselves. I want to live in a world where all these cool things we see in sci-fi TV shows are real. Maybe I’m crazy and stupid… but I think maybe this is actually possible.
I want people to stop arguing about whether it’s okay to use CRISPR or not use CRISPR, or it’s okay to genetically modify yourself. It’s too late: I already made the choice for you. Argument over. Let’s get on with it now. Let’s use this to help people. Or to give people purple skin.”
The molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou who was interviewed by GM Watch continued:
“Some plasmid copies will end up in the nuclei of a few cells in a tiny localized area. Those cells may be successfully CRISPR’d (genome-edited) so that the myostatin gene is knocked out. But that won’t make the muscles bigger because other nuclei in muscle fibres will be pumping out myostatin to block muscle growth. Zayner may succeed in knocking out a few copies of the myostatin gene but that will not result in his muscles getting bigger.
Any biologist could tell Zayner that his method won’t work. The fact that he has still gone ahead and done it suggests that this is just a publicity stunt.”
Zayner is also mixing the DNA with a chemical called PEI (polyethylenimine) to spread the DNA into his cells more thoroughly when given in an injection. However, it is toxic to cells especially at a higher dose, and it can cause necrotic cell death. His flesh could turn black and die instead of his muscles growing.
Dr. Antoniou continued:
“PEI works well in some cells in tissue culture. But is never used in living organisms because it is neither efficient nor safe.”
Maybe he should try DMSO, a chemical derived from trees, to deliver the DNA to cells more thoroughly: it’s a natural way to get things such as magnesium to the cells faster.
I hope no one recommends him DMSO though: that type of naturopathic gem should be reserved for things that don’t disrupt necessary functions of the body and manipulate nature as if the consequences won’t outweigh the benefits.
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This article (Biohacker Genetically Modifies Himself to “Be Big and Muscly”) was created for and appeared first at Natural Blaze. It can be reshared with attribution but MUST include link to homepage, bio, intact links and this message. (Image credit: GM Watch, Maxim, Elsevier, the Verge)