From synthetic biology to women’s health, this is the future of proactivity that will completely revolutionize fields like personalized medicine.

Biohacking: Not a Crime, the Future

As someone who loves the intersection between technology and biology, when the term biohacking comes up, I get super excited.

Biohacking describes the process of conducting science experiments without the need of high-grade lab equipment, or a lab in general.

There are so many different things that can be done with biohacking (sometimes called DIY biology), from optimizing gender-specific health discrepancies, to synthetic biology at home, to creating groundbreaking developments in bacteria using simple kits and materials off of amazon!

I. Applied Biology in Biohacking.

Synbio Progression

This is how we build synbio👇🏾

  1. Regression: This is building out something, typically used in biohacking; easier!

Logic Gates

Especially in biohacking, understanding computational biology is really important, as it’s a primary at-home go-to. Logic is comprised of gates, which describe the different conditions under which something occurs! Each of these gates make up up a circuit, where one or more inputs pass through a gate(s) to result in only one output.

Bio-Circuitry Parts

So, if we take the simple operational rules of the computers that we use today, we can input a biological part that will allow us to use operators in biological/organic systems. Let’s dive into a key technology, called a genetic circuit 🧬, in which we can use operators to code for DNA/RNA, each of which have specific functions.

  1. cds → a coding sequence where the gene’s DNA or RNA codes for a specific protein through amino acids.
  2. ribosome entry site (IRES) → the part of RNA where transcription occurs for protein creation (at the 5' end of eukaryotic mRNA).
  3. terminator → the signaling sequence that marks the ending of transcription on a gene/operon.
  4. operator → sequence that allows transcription proteins to attach to DNA.
  5. insulators → prevent chromatids from doing weird stuff when they’re near each other.
  6. ribonuclease site → active site of the enzyme that degrades RNA.
  7. RNA stability element → something that prevents RNAase 👆🏾 from doing it’s thing.
  8. protease site → active site of a protein-breakdown enzyme.
  9. protein stability element → something that prevents protease from doing its thing.
  10. replication origin → part of genome where replication started.
  11. primer binding site → spot on the RNA/DNA where the primer binds.
  12. restriction site → 6–8 base pairs of DNA that binds to a given restriction enzyme, which destroys cellular invaders.
  13. blunt restriction site → The simplest DNA end.
  14. 5' or 3' restriction site → strand of a sticky-end produced by a restriction enzyme “overhang”, and can exist on either end, which creates the 5' or 3' direction variation between restriction sites.
  15. 5' or 3' overhang → the phosphate for which a base ends on a restriction enzyme. If it ends on a 5' phosphate, it is a 5' overhang. If it ends on a 3' hydroxyl, it is a 3' overhang.
  16. signature → This is referring to the input or output of a function/class, and what it returns; a specific combination of genes or a gene that yields a certain gene expression or pattern of gene expression
  17. user defined (UD) → A function that contains a bunch of other assumuptions/functions that perform different things. This is like a dictionary for synbio functions!

Build-a-Bear (biology edition) Parts

In synbio, we have parts known as biobricks. They build up systems, which we can think of as bio-houses. Except, biobricks don’t combine like normal bricks do. They are more like Build-a-bear, where two differently shaped structures can click together to form an entirely new one, and you can combine whatever you want to create something new!

The standard assembly process 👆🏾
  • Arrange your primers with the final biobrick sequence, then use the polymerase chain reaction or gene synthesization.

Bio-Devices

Biological devices are actually quite simple. They’re just a bunch of parts that work collectively to define a full function. We have a lot of devices in the human body, from our cells, to our nerves, to our enzymes that make up different reaction complexes. You can think of it as a car dealership. The parts are assembled on the assembly line, and then they make the devices, which constitute the functionality and form of the final car (the system).

The Bio-System

As we already know, parts + parts = devices, devices + devices = systems. And their derivatives are the materials that we get. Systems include genetic circuits (we know 😎), plasmids, or vectors.

Synbio Programming

We can design biological circuits using different programming languages! Such developments mean that we can start doing synthetic biology at home using our computers

Build-a-Bio

Because synthetic biology is the combination of engineering and biology, it’s required that we go into some math. In general, biology doesn’t always involve too much complex math, but you’ll be needing some calculus and equations here and there (depending on what type of biology research you’re doing, and in what subfield). But, because this is biohacking, everything can be shredded down into less technical terms!

Ordinary differential equation chemical reactionchemical reaction; math! 🤩
  1. Make a full model detailing its structure, behavior, interactions
  2. A little mathematical magic to understand the logistics of its chemical reactions, and be able to model it

DBTA Cycle ♻️

Just like how biology has the scientific method as its operational system, synbio has the DBTA. DBTA stands for Design → Build → Test → Analyze. This is sometimes referred to as the DBT cycle (same thing, minus the analyze).

Synbio ‧ Biohacking = Synbiohacking

👆🏾 this is one of the most revolutionary easy-access technologies to date.

Applications of Synbiohacking

What’s interesting about synbio in biohacking is that synthetic biology contains about all extended disciplines of applied biology, like gene editing, optogenetics, connectomics, biosensors, and biomedicines. Let’s review a couple.

Biosensors

Biosensors are re-engineered organisms that can be used in the body to collect different biological data that would otherwise require extensive invasive procedure.With synthetic biology at home, you can even design the circuits that code for the biosensor genes!

Optogenetics

CGTN; how optogenetics is stimulating mouse brains
  1. Developing new laser lights for optogenetics that are more efficient.

Cellular Agriculture

Cellular agriculture is a bio-practice that describes using cells from an animal or gene editing yeast to grow food, proteins, and/or other non cell products. It’s a huge sustainability technology. Aside from this, slaughterhouses generate over 10 million tons of waste per year. Though slaughtering animals isn’t good, we can actually make some good out of the killing of animals ☹️. Their bones and tendons contain the protein collagen, which can be easily churned into gelatin. Though this sounds morbid, look at these innocent mittens!

ETH Zürich; gelatin glove (left), wool glove (right). The gelatin fibers look better.

Biocomputing

This is a technology that Microsoft has been working on for quite some time. Biocomputing != computational biology. Computational biology is conventional computers doing biology, while biocomputing is biological systems becoming conventional computers.

genetic circuits, a gate, a biocomputing flow, a function, cell imaging, etc. etc.
  1. Solving optimization problems. These are hard problems that need the best possible solutions. Using things like slime molds and human cells, you can actually create something called a memristor, which is a resistor with biological memory. This means that they can optimize the functional capabilities of a computer, making it super powerful!
  2. Crushing quantum computing. As much as I love quantum, biocomputing was found to possibly outperform quantum computing due to needing less processing power and energy.

Gene-Editing

In terms of the field itself, gene editing is just utilizing different biochemical tools to replace different genes in the body, and/or causing specific genes to activate. This has a lot of different meanings, from designer babies to food to eliminating diseases. One of the most popular tools is CRISPR, a gene editing scissor method using enzymes, and others include Cas-CLOVER and prime editing. Check out Dr. Jennifer Doudna if you want to learn more!

Designer Babies and Synbio-genesis

So creating humans or even perfect babies from scratch or from cells is a looooonnnng way to go. Like that long. But that’s the ultimate goal of synthetic biology in the first place. To create a future of life.

Who’s doing it?

newprotein.org by Ms. Olivia Fox Cabane — I’m helping to build its parent company, kindearth.tech! w/Ms. Ira van Eelen

Personal Connection

My personal experience with synbiohacking is one full of fun. As someone who’s fascinated by a whole lot of technology, I found the whole idea of synthetic biology to be a blast. Though I wasn’t really sure about exactly what it was at the start, it was definitely something that I knew I was interested in, among a whole lot of other things.

II. Biohacking w/Chronobiology.

But what if everyone had the erudition to do so?

This is the premise of biohacking, and more specifically in the context of biohacking for the body, where an individual uses experimentation, documentation, and analysis to understand and cater to their body.

Biohacking our Lives

The field of chronobiology — the study of biological cycles and their emergent effects — says otherwise. We have these constantly spinning clocks inside of our bodies, both men and women alike, that detail the different means by which our body reacts to things physiologically.

  1. Google Sheets: Standardize your results in Notion here.
  2. Google Drive: Download your Notions as pdfs, and store them here + use it as a flow reference.
  3. Google Calendar: Schedule and set up notifications.
  1. Eating past 8 PM (guilty).
  2. Snacks.
  3. Pleasure Eating.
  4. Not drinking enough water.
  5. Over eating.
  6. Under eating (guilty, oddly).
  7. Ignoring your body (guilty).
  8. Sleeping too much.
  9. Sleeping late (guilty, literally right now ☹️).
  10. Stressing ourselves out.
  11. Tampering with acne or scars.
  12. Getting hurt and not taking time to heal.
  13. Bad dieting.
  14. Not being active or playing sports.
  15. Following stupid trends like “purging”.
  16. Subconsciously straining your eyes with screens/not wearing protective eyewear when using screens for extended periods of time.
  17. Not making any change!
  18. Suppressing flatulence (lol, just try not to do that)/stomach issues causing abdominal distention.
  19. Suppressing *bathroom activities*.
  20. Too much juice.
  21. Allowing your throat to get dry and NOT actively trying to stop it.
  22. Give wrong answers to the doctor.
  23. Not documenting pains or aches you have.
  24. Not paying attention to your body.

Female biology is probably one of the most intriguing and functionally complex biological systems to date.

Why?

Female Biohacking

So, what’s this new clock? Well, its another rhythm called the Infradian Rhythm is an additional cycle possessed by 50% of the population that occurs beyond 24 hours. This means that the cycle doesn’t even occur every day, but instead every 28 days. This process is known as the menstrual cycle.

Overviewing Female Biology and Health

This is the process, composed of large convolutions of biology and hormones, that allows for the reproduction and growth in the female. The menstrual cycle itself is often considered the “period”, a cycle reset by menstruation.

But menstruation != the menstrual cycle. There’s way more to it than just the period.

This is the point of menstruation (this is the period; click to make the photo bigger!):

design inspiration: Isabella Grandic
  1. The best/dominant egg is sent through the egg pathway (fallopian tubes) to the uterus.
  2. The endometrium thickens and produces chemical and mucus forms.
  3. The egg is expelled. If pregnant, it meets a sperm from the male to develop the baby!
  1. Follicular Phase: This is the stage in which an egg is being prepared to get released, and occurs between menstruation and ovulation (7–10 days).
  2. Proliferative Phase: This is the regeneration after menstruation, where the uterine lining is created once again (4–6+ days).
  3. Ovulation (Instance): When eggs are released from the ovary (12–24 hours; egg dies in 24 hours if unfertilized).
  4. Luteal Phase: (If applicable) this is the preparation for pregnancy. Otherwise, this is just the space between ovulation and then re-menstruation (12–14 days).
  5. Secretory Phase: This is the phase in which the uterine lining produces important chemicals that allow for the lining to undergo menstruation, or bolsters the body in preparation for an early pregnancy.
design inspiration: Isabella Grandic

A lot of these hormones produced are really important.

There are a variety of hormones, called the primaries, that are in high concentrations during some point of the menstrual cycle. They include progesterone, estrogen, FSH, LH, insulin, testosterone, and cortisol.

Fembio and Its Results

The female physiology, though complex and oftentimes painful, describes some behavioral and cognitive functions that make it easily optimizable with biohacking. Using the tools that were desribed, like Notion and Google Tools, females can start using their hormonal changes to their advantage.

How and Why to Biohack if You’re a Female

thanks to Isabella Grandic for finding some of these awesome stats!
  1. Not just simply cutting out carbohydrates, but rather understand which foods have which effects that are best for dieting and also leave you feeling good. You actually need carbohydrates for estrogen production.
  2. Knowing about your period. Know the different colors of blood there are, what they each mean, and why they happen.
  3. Get sleep (for reasons that are just too obvious). Understand REM.
  4. Watch not only what you eat and drink, but what you eat and drink out of. It has been shown that eating and drinking out of too many plastics can cause the buildup of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are toxic to the female body.
  5. Make sure to spreadsheet everything, or keep it organized on paper.

Biohacking is not a crime, but the future.

Even separately, synbio hacking and fem biohacking have huge implications in driving industries forward, and creating a self-sustaining public health system that could completely disrupt the way we’ve been looking at our lives for so long.

III. Breakdown on Biohacking.

The activity of exploiting genetic material experimentally without regard to accepted ethical standards, or for criminal purposes.

Even not considering the last part reading “criminal purposes”, the beginning says “without regard to accepted ethical standards”. However, if you consider what biohacking inherently does, its personal. It’s not typically interpersonal, or even relative. Biohacking should be considered a personal practice.

A key biohacker

In Media

My friend Ana Sofia sh has also laid out her thoughts in her article: Biohacking in Netflix?!?!. She also thought it was awesome — and gave me inspiration to write this part of my article with this format (and some of the synbio designs, too!). Check her’s out too!

Characterization

Mia: Emma, or Mia (which is her undercover name) is the ultra-smart “medical student” trying to oust the sketchy professor lady — I’ll elaborate more on this later.

The Story

The plot of biohackers is actually quite simple. It depicts a complex web of lies and a partial revenge story. When Emma/Mia was young, her brother passed in a clinical trial conducted by Professor Lorenz, who was trying to develop a panacea, and was doing human testing.

Context + My Take

As we approach the future, and get closer and closer to it, I believe that there’s going to be a larger concentration on ethics, rather than the technology itself. Most conversations that require the most thought is how these systems are going to be regulated. Howe they’re going to ensure that we’re not just allowing people to go crazy and do whatever they want.

Look at the factors, not the outcome. The policy should be based on people, not the product. An ethical framework requires efficacy.

I’m really trying to stress the importance of this here. Lorenz was on a good mission to save the world, and actually rid it of all disease. But at the same time, Lorenz was trying to determine how great her genetic product would be by testing it on other people, which killed them.

The Impacts

The impacts of this show are actually kind of hard to understand, but here were the review ratings:

IX. In Closing…

Before you go…

ma ’23 + tks ’22 | bio @sickkidstoronto | ml @hansonrobotics | ml collaborator @ibm | https://okezuebell.com

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