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OAKLAND: In a common house, located on a quiet street in Oakland, Josiah Zayner is on a container full of green frogs with a syringe in his hand.
Carefully inject a fluid to the back of the frog, while a cage full of grills in the background. In four to five weeks, this small frog of trees will be almost twice as large.
"I want to take advantage of the knowledge I have and translate it because I can fly the minds of the people," said Zayner, who had bright ears with an assortment of silver earrings.
Since its founding, The Odin, in 2006, Zayner and his team have been striving to give the public the education and tools to safely edit the genes of organisms. So far, they have sold thousands of gene editing kits and have achieved about $ 500,000 in revenues only last year. With these economic devices, individuals can practice science processes once contained in a laboratory, such as making a brilliant yeast in the dark and precise genetic mutations in bacteria.
Now, with the launch of the new frog kits last November, people can alter the anatomy of a frog with some simple injections in their own home.
"When we see movies and when we dream, what we want is the man with wings or dragons," said Zayner. "People are more interested in the creative and artistic part of science. And you can not get help for that."
Zayner is no stranger to the world of gene editing.
After receiving his doctorate in Molecular Biophysics at the University of Chicago, he worked for two years in the NASA space synthetic biology program, where he designed bacteria that could help transform Mars into a planet suitable for to human life.
Since 2016, he has fully invested his time in The Odin and became known for his controversial CRISPR kits.
But, unlike CRISPR kits, the frog kit uses a lesser-known gene-type process called liquid formulated to improve biology engineering or FLEEB.
FLEEB uses a special liquid that is a mixture of fats and a protein called insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1, which is critical in the growth of muscle tissue and muscle in adults. Once injected into the frog, the fats allow the IGF-1 to glide smoothly through the cell wall. DNA in IGF-1, then, causes the cell to become an idea that is part of the DNA of the cell, thus stimulating cell growth.
But these changes do not lead to the offspring of the frog. The cells modified by injections IGF-1 are not the same as the reproductive cells of the frog that make up their sperm or their eggs.
The goal of Zayner is to promote this type of science in high school classrooms around the world.
"We try to say:" Look, your bachelor no longer needs to dissect frogs, "he said. Giving students the chance to do practical projects in gene expression," they can go on 2019 and do modern scientific experiments " .
Biochemistry Kate Adamala, a guest professor of the online CRISPR class and biohacking from Zayner, believes that these classes are key to dissipating fears and public misunderstandings about genetic engineering. They can also promote more students to pursue a career in science.
"If we expose more people to the idea that it is not black magic, they may consider going to science," Adamala said. "It can make science education more fun and show people who thought they were not smart enough to go to science that they really are."
But the expert in infectious diseases of the University of Stanford, Dr. David Relman, co-director of the International Security and Cooperation Center, has serious concerns.
Although Relman supports the reflective and productive commitment of science by the general public, it strongly opposes the Zayner method.
"You can not go to a cabin and fly an airplane," Relman said. "You can not simply remove a pipette and make science."
Science involves a set of ethical and moral principles, especially when it comes to animal testing. The distribution of frog gene therapy kits for anyone to use is a clear breach of these principles, says Relman.
"There is a sense to observe this work that frogs have been considered as less significant and valuable, and therefore it is correct to play with their genomes," he said. "I refuse this".
Although gene editing only modifies non-reproductive cells of the frog, Relman is concerned that these kits are the beginning of a slippery slope.
Zayner says the creation of his gene therapy kits for frogs involved extensive research and compliance with animal test laws. However, he understands that selling these kits will cause a lot of anger and apprehension.
"What I am learning is that time (in the sale of kits) is sometimes more important than just knowing that you can do it," he said.
But, regardless of the reactions of others, Zayner is determined to continue breaking new motives in the field of gene editing, especially through its online CRISPR tutorial: one of the most popular articles of Odin.
Obtaining the broadest possible audience, it hopes that the public scientists will finally use their education to discover new opportunities in the genesis and inventing products that one day can save lives.
"When science and the editing of genes enter our culture through the people that explore the unknown, I think that when I feel happy," said Zayner. "I want to live in this world".