Saturday, July 15, 2006

biotech 2.0: Pro-Tech campaign for life extension&regenerative medicine

The web will transform politics too: Campaigns Wikia was launched about two weeks ago by Wikipedia-founder Jimmy Wales and the Mission Statement took the form of An open letter to the blogosphere


Here is my idea: online-offline Pro-Tech campaign&happening for life extension&regenerative medicine&biotech which fits well for the participatory politics-driven spirit of Campaigns Wikia and the new and powerful web tools we have. New tools deserves new topics and issues.

Healthy Life Extension (LE) is out of those very rare issues, that could make people go to the streets and demonstrate for the first time that there are many people whose established desire is to live more and eliminate problems concerning aging through science, biotech and medicine. Many particular aims could be targeted in this area from research and health care to human rights too.

So imagine a free, geek performance for LE (more LIFE) when people, aiming high and thinking long term in every age group - old people very welcome -, researchers, coders, doctors, geeks, intellectuals, IT-entrepreneurs, businessmen... who want to live more, go and stand up for their human rights to live as long as they can to express their full human potential and stand up for life extension technologies, (embryonic) stem cell research, tissue engineering and human biotechnology in general. This would be interesting, non-violent. Hippie and hip. Not just -sometimes- boring conferences, gatherings, but lively, funny happenings which make LE aims and supporters really visible. The ideal offline place of this kind of performance would be the U.S., California the home of Proposition 71, or Miami, the Grey Zone.

More Life would be an international, intergenerational movement transcending existing political barriers, linking people together seeking the common denominator. Supporting healthy life extension is celebrating and confirming the value and dignity of human life. Live long enough to live more, than ever.

What better place than here, what better time than now?


Thursday, April 27, 2006

BioWired, a blogozine idea that needs Your help

On Mar 31, 2006 4:53 PM I wrote an email to John Battelle, with the subject of the above title, and content of this:


"Dear Mr. Battelle,

I have a journal idea for you, let us call it Biowired, which would be the biotech (BT) counterpart of Wired magazine.
Now it is time to popularize biotechnology, exactly as you did it with digital technology and the web at Wired in the 90's. This popularization could be done parallel with the first great successes of regenerative medicine, which might be a tissue engineered tooth, skin, tendon, bone, cartilage. This will be a true mission, an exciting task for all immersive and intensive journalists, who would like to explore the next frontier for a general audience.
Imagine a magazine whose content has the inverse proportion of Wired: biotech:infotech= 4:1. Biomedical technology is dominant,
but also has a white and green BT column, focusing on nanotechnology and GMO-s. The leader in human BT will be regenerative medicine, aging research and life extension technologies.
The message: regeneration of the whole human body inside out is no other, than inside plastic surgery, biotech is valuable and justifiable, and could be a DIY issue also.
Main marketing thought: since regeneration is plastic surgery, small plastic surgeries, companies, big pharmas are invited to advertise in it, like IT firms in Wired.
Who will buy it : BT transformed former IT entrepreneurs, life extensionists, plastic surgeons, medical doctors.
Focus: leading biotech areas of the world: USA, England-Sweden biotech region, Singapore, China, Australia.
Article exemplars: life extension justifiers, interview with biotech CEO-s and (hero or villain) researchers, reporting new biotech trends.
The IT section would focus on human bionic prostheses, artificial muscles, bionformatics, in-built chips, biological databases etc. Both for the ill and the healthy, both for therapy and enhancement.
Website: blogs of biotech researchers, biotech DIY-ers, research, business, networking departments.

Reason: Biotech is the next big thing in high-tech. The future of high tech is the perfect combination of its two main sectors, BT and IT. It is a hidden trend in the Valley, that succesful IT entrepreneurs invest into BT start-ups. Even Google has or plans a biology department, backing Venter, and Sergey Brin is much interested in molecular biology as I know it. That creates not just a permissive but a highly supportive environment fot this magazine project. Highlights its actuality.

Request: You are extremely experienced in starting journals with revolutionary content in high-tech field, and you've got the power and the means to do that. My request of you is to help launch the magazine by offering it to journalists and publishers.

About me:My definite plan is to move to California within a year as a researcher near the Valley, but beside that I'd like to follow my journalist career too.
I am a last year PhD student, a trained molecular biologist and biotechnologist, and my topic is stem cell biology, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine. I also have an experience as a freelance technology and science writer for general audience (hungarian), biotech (regenerative medicine, Fukuyama's book, ethical debates) and mainly IT and media: about Wired magazine, interview with Jimmy Wales and Lawrence Lessig, iPod, personal fabrication, social networking sites, web 2.0, all the stuff familiar in Wired. I got a master's degree in philosophy too.

A bio could be found at my newsvine column:

Best regards,

Attila Csordás"

Now it was about a month ago, and the letter seems to have hibernated or was maybe lost. So the time is over, and here in this blog I start the BIOWIRED project. Please join me, share and distribute this blog if you would like to make biotech sexy.
May the blog be with you.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Biotech DIYers, do not hesitate

Would you like to sequence your genome in your garage? To grow your stem cells in the kitchen-lab? To hunt for point mutations just for your own sake? Welcome to the coming world of personal biotech.


All you need is a short course in biotech basics, a few thousands of bucks, some tinkering capability, and enough spare time.

The beautiful retro idea of tinkering with digital devices in a garage, conveyed by the Make magazine, can be extended to biotech too.
The know-how of hacking seemingly complicated electronic devices has been made accessible to non-pros. The needs were fuelled by the idea of personal fabrication. However, needs are constantly changing, and biotech is gaining more and more ground in everyday life.
Who knows, in the not so distant future, self-aware citizens may manage their own stem cells, grow them in the garage, and store them in the fridge. It could be a form of autonomous medical self-insurance.

Incredible as it may sound, the basics of molecular biology - what is DNA, how genetic information is coded, how it turns to RNA, which base triplets fits to which amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, that make up your body - can be learnt within 2 hours. Another intensive two weeks in an official lab with an instructor and you can work with them.

The main technology to be applied is the so called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a method for specifically amplifying a region of DNA through cycles of 3 repeated temperature steps: 1, denaturing double-stranded DNA, 2, demarcating the targeted sequence with primers, 3, synthesizing the newborn strand with a polymerase enzyme.
You can isolate DNA from anywhere (hair, saliva etc.) order the appropriate primers, and then see the sequence amplifying.
The basics of in vitro cell culture, i.e. the method how to isolate and maintain cells through passages, is a simple kitchen recipe, like the algorithms of making a steak.

If interested, you can do home biotech, you have the right and power to work with the basic macromolecules (DNA, RNA, protein) of life and with cells too. But it is not allowed to make experiments with animals and humans because of straightforward ethical reasons. DNA, cells, yes, animals and humans, no. So let's exercise our rights and keep in mind the ethical standards.
In the era of bioterrorism, raising self-awareness is crucial: knowing and using bioDIY in a clear-cut and legal way helps to dissipate fears. Biotech geeks, sequence your genome and look at your proteome. At home.