A French teenager has injected himself with a DNA sequence he claims contained text from the Bible and Koran, prompting fierce criticism from those involved in the specialized science. Adrien Locatell, from Grenoble in France, translated the passages into DNA code in order to generate proteins that he could inject into his body.
The experiment was not without grave risks, however. Void of any formal training as a geneticist, Locatelli risked doing serious harm to himself, particularly as he had no prior knowledge of the effects that the proteins would have on his body. The high-school student claimed that he attempted the bizarre feat, which involved him injecting the solution into both thighs, because he “wondered whether it would be possible.”
DNA consists of chemicals that are assigned the letters ACGT. The various combinations of these letters equate to the coding of genes.
“Recent studies have reported that it is possible to convert any type of information into DNA for the purpose of storage,” the student explained in a recent study he posted online.
“Since it is possible to convert digital information into DNA, I wondered whether it would be possible to convert a religious text into DNA and to inject it in a living being. It is the first time that someone injects himself [with] macromolecules developed from a text.”
He added that the use of religious texts was “very symbolic even if it does not have much interest.”
Locatelli noted that he replaced every single Hebrew character in the Book of Genesis with DNA code, excluding 2:10 to 2:14, 5, and 7:1 to 7:5 because they were “controversial.”
In Genesis 7:1, God asks Noah to build an Ark, and warns of the coming flood that will destroy everything on earth.
The responses to Locatelli’s venture into risky genetic experimentation were, in general, rather negative.
“2018 can’t end soon enough,” tweeted Biochemistry Professor, Sri Kosuri.
Dear biohackers etc. Please stop. You are idiots. https://t.co/5AGqdoY8oF
— Isaac Stoner (@isaacbstoner) December 14, 2018
“Dear biohackers etc. Please stop. You are idiots,” added scientist Isaac Stoner.
Well that’s one way to get superpowers.
— Justin Caram (@jrcaram) December 14, 2018
“I know the odds of a nonsense protein being close to anything dangerous in sequence space are relatively low, but this kind of avant-garde attitude and disregard for ethics towards science terrifies me that humanity’s end will be at the hands of an idiot,” tweeted graduate student Ella Watkins.
“There is no facepalm big enough for this,” another replied.