9 Dec 2017

Kill or cure? DIY gene therapies

From This Way Up, 12:15 pm on 9 December 2017

If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness how far would you go to find a cure?


Photo: (H Heyerlein via unsplash.com)

An emerging underground community is taking a DIY approach, looking to hack the drawn-out process of drug development, animal testing and clinical trials by researching, making and then taking their own genetic treatments at home.

With no regulations, easy access to genetic tools, huge commercial interest, and people's lives at stake, it's no wonder that the US Food and Drug Administration is tightening up the rules in this area.

Kristen Brown

Kristen Brown Photo: Supplied

Kristen V Brown of Gizmodo is working on a book about this DIY biohacker movement and she says there are some obvious safety concerns around having often untrained people experimenting on themselves outside laboratories.

"Running short on time, dying cancer patients are concocting do-it-yourself versions of highly experimental cancer therapies, without the oversight of doctors or regulators. Without expectation of survival, any therapy — no matter how untested, unproven or potentially unsafe — offers a glimmer of hope." Kristen V. Brown for Gizmodo