Biohacker Regrets Publicly Injecting Himself With CRISPR

“There’s no doubt in my mind that somebody is going to end up hurt eventually.”

Josiah Zayner
Josiah Zayner, CEO and founder of the Odin. (Allyson Laquian/ BuzzFeed News/Flickr)

Josiah Zayner is no stranger to stunts in biohacking — which is loosely defined as experiments, but that take place outside of traditional lab spaces. The Atlantic writes that you could say he invented their latest incarnation: Zayner has sterilized his body to “transplant” his entire microbiome in front of a reporter, he’s extensively documented attempts to genetically engineer the color of his skin, and most notoriously, he injected his arm with DNA encoding for CRISPR that could theoretically enhance his muscles. But when Zayner saw Ascendance Biomedical’s CEO inject himself with an untested herpes treatment on a live-stream earlier this month, he said he “kind of blames himself.” He has been soul-searching recently after becoming a dad. The backlash to the CRISPR stunt in October has also been getting to him. “There’s no doubt in my mind that somebody is going to end up hurt eventually,” he said to The Atlantic. The most visible stuntman in biohacking spoke to The Atlantic about why Zayner originally injected himself with CRISPR on a live-stream, why he sees his stunts as “social activism” gone awry, and why he is still planning to sell DIY CRISPR kits.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.