Skip to content

Double trouble: two week news round-up

June 17, 2014

Cat Ferguson

Hi guys! I am traveling across the country with my dog in tow, so you’ll have to excuse my quirky schedule. To make up for it, here’s what a guinea pig looks like when you shave it.

Freeze your teeth, live forever


The pulp from the middle of your teeth is rich in stem cells. According to intrepid DIYBio-er Andreas Stuermer, aka Mega, neither in-vitro fertilization banks nor the Red Cross will freeze your wisdom teeth, should you decide to try and preserve the stem cells. However, if you can convince your dentist to save them, and stomach carrying home what I can only imagine would be a pretty gross-looking biohazard bag, Transcriptic will freeze them in -80 degrees C for $10.80/year each. How viable will they be?  In dogs, at least, if you harvest the stem cells from pulp and inject them into a hollowed-out tooth, they’ll fill the tooth back in with viable tissue, including blood vessels and nerves. No word on how well they survive a deep-freeze, though.

June events at Boston Open Source Science Lab


The lovely and over-achieving Avery Louie hosted Biotech 101 and Arduino-for-bio nerds at weirdo collective Sprout, in Somerville Mass., last week and this week. If you’re just hearing about this now, you’ve missed out on the biotech crash-course, but you can get an Arduino education for a couple more days – for more info, email Avery at inactive.e(at) And keep your eyes peeled for more events coming soon!

Free biosafety advice kits available to community labs


From Jason Bobe, all-knowing founder of

We are offering a free biosafety advice kits for community labs based in the United States. Each kit includes a poster and a magnet featuring awesome artwork by the llustrator Himanshu Sharma (, as well as a printed copy of a recent report about the DIYbio community (Here is a PDF of 7 myths & realities).

Here is a pic:

yes, please, ask


Want a kit? Please follow the link below and give us some info and we’ll ship you a kit. 1 kit per community lab. Don’t belong to a community lab, but still want a kit? Outside the U.S.? Stay tuned, we plan to make these available to individual practitioners and international folks at a later time.

Sign-up here.

Go forth and be safe!

Crowd-funded plant science and a Reddit AMA


Researchers are crowd-funding their project to sequence the genomes of a symbiotic plant/cynobacteria team. They talk about it on their Reddit AMA, too. Azolla, a family of ferns that live in water, tend to be super-invasive, because they grow fast and almost anywhere it’s reasonably warm. Rice farmers grow it along with their crop, because tucked away in the leaves is a nitrogen-fixing bacteria that makes the plant’s food for it. Knowing how the plant and bacteria work together could be beneficial for other food crops, possibly reducing reliance on artificial nitrogen fertilizer.

On their website, the researchers claim, “Because it is classified as a “lowly fern,” Azolla has been sidelined in plant genome studies. Repeated appeals to granting agencies for funding to unlock the know-how embodied by this superorganism have been met with responses like “too unconventional” or “too risky.”” Not the most auspicious start, but hey, lots of good science is considered kind of crazy in the beginning. Maybe the Power of the Crowd will save the world, after all.

How do you keep motivated?


Whether you’re going through a quarter-life crisis or just getting bummed out by an experiment that you can’t make work, check out this discussion of what makes the DIYBio community tick, in good times and bad.

Cheap, open source bioreactor in the works


Food Hacking Base in Hamburg, Germany is working on an easy to make, easy to use incubator for fermentation projects. If you’re interested in helping out, email Frantisek Algoldor Apfelbeck.

Hello world: DIYBio sets up shop in Paris


French community lab La Paillasse just opened their new biohacking space in the center of Paris. The labs are in the basement, affectionately called the caves because they’re build from “ancient stone.” They’re averaging an event or meeting every other day, so if you’re lucky enough to be in the City of Lights you definitely want to check it out. And they’re crowd-funding to support the new space, so if you’ve got some change, drop it here.

Amplino selected for social-impact incubator


Amplino, a startup that makes cheap, portable qPCR machines for lab diagnostics in poor areas, got tapped by Pricewaterhousecoopers for their Social Impact Lab. They’ll get money, space, and advice on turning their project into a profitable business.

KiloBaser, a new way to synthesize DNA?


An Austrian group is working on a cheap, open source DNA synthesizer “based on microfluidic and magnetic technology.” Few details available, but they’ve got some social media links up:



That’s it for this week, folks! Email or tweet me with whatever you want to see here next week.

And here’s a bonus-bonus: what does the width of a horse butt have to do with space ships? A whole lot! (Hat tip Avery Louie, of course.)


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: