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Home DNA Sequencing 190

An anonymous reader writes "Wired is running an article about high-tech gifts for Christmas, including a home DNA sequencing kit targeted at kids for under $100. What's next, the Fisher Price Cloning kit?"
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Home DNA Sequencing

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  • by vjmurphy ( 190266 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:21AM (#7723709) Homepage
    "What's next, the Fisher Price Cloning kit?"

    Man, I hope not: those Fisher Price kids are genetic disasters. Most of them are bald, have some type of head enlarging disorder, as well as lack of arms and legs. I've even seen one with a pan on his head.

    Now Weebles: there's your evolutionary high road...
  • by DavidNWelton ( 142216 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:23AM (#7723717) Homepage
    I don't mean producing laboratory quality results, just whether it works at all to produce something recognizable? This would be sort of a fun gift for my girlfriend, who is in biotech.
    • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:38AM (#7723783) Homepage
      This basically extracts DNA and runs whatever natural fragments form across a gel - definitely not sequencing, but certainly cute.

      As a biochemist I certainly appreciate the value of the kit in introducting kids to science. Think of it like you'd think of a build-your-own-microscope or build-your-own-electric-motor kit. Yeah, those do make things look bigger and they will turn in a wobbly sort of way, but they aren't useful as real microscopes/motors.

      As far as the reference in the article to paternity testing goes - forget it. At the very least you'd have to use a restriction enzyme to generate a fingerprint pattern. This just makes visible the various small chunks of DNA visible which are created from mechanical handling of it.

      Most likely you'll get a smear of some sort - not discrete bands like you get from any useful experiment. Also - if you do end up with any patterns you'll probably get a different one any time - hardly a "fingerprint". Then again, the discovery website lists a DNA stain fabricated to look like real DNA in its brief description - so if that is added to the well prior to electrophoresis you could get a pattern of bands - though this would not be from the DNA in your sample.

      It is a cute concept though. Your girlfriend will probably appreciate it, although the results will be far inferior to anything she generates at work (assuming she actually works in the lab).

      I wish I knew more about the contents of the kit. I'm curious as to what they're using for staining - the gold standard in the lab is ethidium bromide. However, I'm certain that isn't in the kit - it is a very powerful mutagen.
      • by Marcus Brody ( 320463 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:49AM (#7723823) Homepage
        I'm curious as to what they're using for staining - the gold standard in the lab is ethidium bromide. However, I'm certain that isn't in the kit - it is a very powerful mutagen.

        Cyber Green? I think that's fairly safe.... Ethidium Bromide would be bad!

        Would have been nice if they could have included some cheap and robust restriction enzyme, to produce fingerprints. However this would then require hybridisation with a probe to bring out a few bands - way too complex/expensive. Anyone think of a cheaper and easier way of producing a nice fingerprint? It would be good to have a Mark II kit that actually did something usefull...
      • As a biochemist...

        I've RTFA's for almost five years now about DNA sequencing, and how uber-clusters of Linux boxes have been used to help this process (a recent Linux Journal article talked about this). However, never have I seen an explanation of what DNA sequencing really is, and more importantly, what good does having a sequence do? What will we do with this new information? All the articles I see usually have a sidebar with some handwaving about "medical research" and the obligatory "hopefully fi
        • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:36AM (#7724746) Homepage Journal

          Well, it's a fair question, and to some degree it's difficult to answer, because ... well, at this point, a lot of DNA sequence information is kind of like Bernoulli's law before airplanes, or the rules of Boolean algebra before computers. IOW, we know that there's a lot we can do with the information, but we haven't actually built the machines yet.

          That being said, there's a lot of useful work going on with at least some DNA sequence information right now. Here (as a comp. bio. grad student) are the ones I can think of at the moment:

          • Microbial and viral sequence data is probably the most immediately useful, because by comparing the sequences of different strains of pathogens (e.g. HIV) we can track the emergence of these strains, figure out when and where they originated, and hopefully control the most virulent strains.
          • More excitingly, these little critters tend to have genomes that are really simple; learning, e.g., which genes in a viral genome code for which proteins in its coat allows us to develop new drugs against it. AFAIK, most of the latest generation of AIDS drugs (which don't cure the disease, certainly, but do allow its victims to live much longer and better lives than previously) were developed this way.
          • In a similar vein to the first item, it's possible to track the evolutionary development of bigger organisms (e.g., us) by comparing changes in sequences between those organisms and their close relatives (e.g., other primates). This kind of "phylogenetics" has already changed a lot of previous assumptions about various organisms' relationships to each other and their common ancestors; it's not an exaggeration to say it's redrawing our picture of the tree of life. This is, of course, pure science rather than engineering; whether you value knowledge for its own sake is up to you. (And if you're a creationist, then please stop reading; I don't like spending my time explaining things to idiots.;)
          • "Bad" gene sequences are the cause of cancer, and of almost every other non-infectious disease we know of. (Sickle-cell, cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, you name it.) Right now, about all we can do is identify individuals who are at higher risk for some form of cancer because of some particular kink in their DNA. That's still important, because it allows those individuals to be more closely tracked and given earlier treatment if and when tumours do appear. However ...
          • We are at the dawn of the gene therapy era. (Like all ages of exploration, it's risky; so far I think the score is something like two patients cured, twenty killed.) It is entirely reasonable to expect that within a decade or two, we will be able to insert "good" copies of "bad" genes, replacing the genes which cause these diseases. This is the whiz-bang stuff that has everyone so excited.
          There's plenty more, but this is the stuff I can come up with off the top of my head and with only half a cup of coffee so far this morning. ;)
          • Good post. You're right that most of the big picture stuff is far away, but sequence information is currently extremely important to the practicing biochemist. As a pharmacology (though in practice biochemistry) grad student, I use sequence data all the time. Just like genetics can be used to trace the phylogeny of organisms, it can also trace the phylogeny of proteins. So suppose you have novel protein Foo, you can check for sequence homologies against known proteins. Suppose we find that Foo has an 86% h
        • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @03:33PM (#7727222) Homepage
          Another poster gave a good explanation of the applications of sequencing. I'll give you a quick explanation of how it is done:

          1. Obtain a pure sample of DNA to sequence. You have to know a little bit of the sequence at the start (not a problem - when you sequence an unknown DNA sample you usually chop it up into bite-sized chunks and insert them into bits of bacterial DNA to make lots of copies of them - this means the unknown DNA has bacterial DNA on either end of it and you already know the sequence of that part).

          2. Make a short strand of DNA that binds to the known portion of DNA sequence at the start of unknown portion. These are called primers.

          3. Mix the DNA to be sequenced with the primers, heat them up and cool them. This results in long pieces of uknown DNA with the primers stuck to the beginning.

          4. Throw in the building blocks of DNA - but a small portion of them are essentially defective and marked with fluorescent tags.

          5. Throw in DNA replicating enzymes - these guys look for primers and try to copy the unknown DNA starting at the side of the DNA with the primers attached.

          The DNA replicating enzymes will copy the DNA until they accidentally grab a building-block which is defective (which happens a small portion of the time - since most of the building blocks in the mixture work fine). At that point the defective building block is attached to the end of the DNA strand and that strand cannot be copied further.

          At the end you end up with a mix of DNA strands that look like:

          1. Only one step of the DNA ladder copied - because the first block grabbed was defective.
          2. Only two steps copied - the second block was defective.
          3. Three blocks copied. ...
          N. The whole strand is copied.

          Each of these DNA strands is one step longer than the strand before it. Each has a fluorescent tag at the end - since each ends with a defective block.

          You then put this mix of partial strands onto a gel and apply an electrical current - the bigger strands move through the gel more slowly (they get stuck in the pores in the gel).

          You end up with a gel with a long ladder-like series of bands - each band is a DNA strand one step longer than the band before it. Each is fluorescently tagged.

          Now here is the magic - back when you put the defective building blocks in you actually used a mixture of four blocks (the four types of steps in DNA) each with a different color tag on it. So each band is a different color - corresponding to the color of the last step that was added to the chain. The pattern of colors corresponds to the sequence of the DNA.

          I tried to simplify this explanation for those with only a basic understanding of biochemistry. There are various ways of doing DNA sequencing, and these days much of it is automated.

          Oh - where the computers come in is this:

          A gel like the one I described can only handle pieces of DNA up to about 400 steps long. That means that you can only sequence 400 bases at a time (a base is a step in the DNA ladder). A human being has 4 billion bases in their DNA.

          The way you sequence the whole human genome is to chop it up into lots of 400 base units. You actually take lots of copies of the human genome and chop it into lots of random pieces. Then you sequence pieces until you're sequenced about 40 billion bases. Then you have a computer run through the sequences looking for overlaps. The computer will find lots of regions that are sequenced several times, and some regions that weren't sequenced at all. However, it will give you a pretty good sequence of the overall genome, and then some careful followup work can fill in the gaps (the followup work is less easily automated, so they try to get most of it using the random method).
      • Right on, there would be likely nothing but a smear, even cutting it up would result in a smear because the huge number of overlapping fragments, but the kit includes DNA stain -- fabricated to mimic real DNA -- so I am guessing you will always get the same pattern. I suppose you could run it out on the gel, take a sample from the lane, and run that out in a lower %age agarose gel to separate things out.

        However, this is a crude extract with no purification or isolation. Fingerprinting this kind of pre
        • by Sgt York ( 591446 ) <> on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:52AM (#7724905)
          Most restriction enzymes cut frequently, if you used a 6-8 cutter, you'd get a smear. But you could use infrequent cutters (20+) and get some distinct bands, even from genomic DNA. That's probably what they provide.

          The product site has info on how to get lambda (phage, I assume)DNA to cut & run, which would give you good banding patterns. Heck, I use lambda/HaeIII as my molecular weight marker.

      • I'm curious as to what they're using for staining - the gold standard in the lab is ethidium bromide. However, I'm certain that isn't in the kit - it is a very powerful mutagen.

        Heh, doesn't this defeate the purpose of using it for DNA, if it changes the DNA in the process? ;)
        • It doesn't chemically modify the DNA - it just sticks to it (it stacks in-between the steps in the DNA "staircase" - the dye is flat just like the steps are).

          The problem is that when a DNA replication enzyme shows up when the cell needs to divide, it has trouble reading the DNA because of all the dye molecules stuck to the DNA.

          So it is only a problem if you want to copy the DNA. Generally you just stain it to get it to show up on a gel, and then you take a photo and toss the whole thing in the trash.

    • Shameless plug!

      Why not buy it and try it yourself! rvlet/Produ ctDisplay?catalogId=10000&storeId=10000&productId= 53965&langId=-1

      Buy now, and get it for Christmas! You can use the coupon SHOP10 to get $10 off on all your shopping at the Discovery Store.

      Yes, I work for Discovery.
  • For Free? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:24AM (#7723724)
    Why pay when you can do it for free []?
    • Re:For Free? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That only shows how to extract DNA, which is the easy part. Comparing DNA sequences is a bit more difficult.
      • But they aren't comparing any sequences. There not doing any actual sequencing at all, which is why they call it a "DNA Explorer", not a sequencer -its the article that gets that basic fact wrong. Based on what I read, seems like all they're doing is comparing the size and number of chromosomes. Cool, but not really a big deal.

  • by HansF ( 700676 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:25AM (#7723730) Journal
    Now, your kids can check if you are their real father for themselves.
    I think a lot of kids wil be very happy with this information.
    • by YanceyAI ( 192279 ) * <> on Monday December 15, 2003 @09:03AM (#7723872)
      What's more dangerous? Junior with the chemsitry set that can blow up the garage, or Junior with the goods to blackmail mom...
    • by Deanasc ( 201050 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @09:37AM (#7724010) Homepage Journal
      That's a big part of the reason they don't do blood typing in science classes anymore. Most people think it's because of the AIDS scare but really it's because in almost every class some kid would discover there was no way his (or her) father was real. Some fathers knew... Some didn't.
      • Medical Privacy (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Roxton ( 73137 )
        Yeah, there was a legal case not too long ago involving a woman who required a blood transfusion for her surgery. She told the doctor that she didn't want blood from anyone but an immediate relative. The doctor laughed her off and used conventional blood, and the woman got infected with HIV.

        Patients have the right to limit the scope of their consent, so the woman won her case against the doctor. But no hospital would have placed the burden of blood identification on the immediate family because of relat
      • Statistically 3-4/10 children's fathers are not their biologically fathers... Next time my kid gets a cut I wouldn't mind running a few tests. :)
        • When my wife and I have kids, we're planning to get the children and ourselves DNA fingerprinted and put the images together in a picture frame for comparison.

          Of course, I have no idea how accessible such services are, how expensive, or even what the process is called... still I think it'll look neat on the wall.

    • That isn't the first thing I thought of when I saw this.

      My first thought was, "Great, now how can I rig this up into a quick viral infection test?"

      Imagine the social impacts of a 5-minute, DNA-based 'home STD test', that was as reliable as those 'home pregnancy tests' you get at the supermarket. Find a hottie at the bar, go home, prick your fingers, compare bands and you're good for a wild night of bareback.

      It'd be the 70's all over again.
      • They do have a 20 minute "instant" test for HIV anyway that is an oral test. I don't know about other STD's but it's probably just a matter of getting the right proteins in the strip.

        Anyway the company that makes it is called OraSure []. I believe it is pretty expensive, but the accuracy is supposed to be pretty high.
  • by the real darkskye ( 723822 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:26AM (#7723733) Homepage
    until little jamie finds out that he and daddy share no genetic material, before this gets released, let me buy shares in the paper divorce orders are printed on ...
  • by arcanumas ( 646807 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:28AM (#7723747) Homepage
    From the article:

    Mommy's Little Mouthpiece Teddy Ruxpin goes wireless. Plug Wabi's transmitter into a phone jack, call a designated toll-free number, and record a message. At selected intervals, the transmitter collects the data and sends it to the ursine bot's receiver over a 900-MHz signal. The bear giggles when it gets a message, and your kid simply presses its badge to play the audio. "Hi, Billy! Mommy and Daddy don't love you anymore. I'm in charge now, and things are going to change around this house, dammit!"

    Great. Now we can give them Chucky Doll for present.
    If only i had something like that when my little sister annoyed me.

    • I was looking at this list a few weeks ago, and I concluding that thing was the creepiest toy ever. ...

      Of course, I would probably use it by locking the "play" switch on and tormenting some kid, yeah.
  • Modding the Airzooka (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:31AM (#7723757) Homepage
    The Airzooka vortex gun is interesting, but I bet that you could have a lot more fun by injecting a flammable gas/liquid into the vortex, and then igniting it either after launching or when it hits a target.

    Don't try this at home kids -- try this at someone else's home!

  • Messy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zorgoth ( 68241 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:33AM (#7723765)
    I am curious how powerful the centrifuge is in this thing. My mom worked in a med-lab and they had centrifuge repair guys on call in case one started to make funny noises. Unstable high RPM systems of blood and glass can get a little nasty.
    • It's probably just like the R2D2's (they look like R2D2) most people have on their benches. Little domed things not useful for much other than making sure everything is at the bottom of the tube before you open it, and maybe packing beads to the bottom of a slurry. The clinical centrifuge your mom uses is most likely middle of the road as far as power goes.
  • Boring ! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rcastro0 ( 241450 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:33AM (#7723767) Homepage
    DNA Sequencing ? As Homer Simpson would put it, "Boring !" I mean, "see kid, this barcode is different from this barcode, this is a black bean DNA and this is a green pea DNA", "dad, can't I go back to my playstation ?".

    But, hey, I would like to play with them Pixel Blocks myself [] ! (from the same wired review).
    • hehe...Now a Fisher Price DNA combining kit, THAT would be something cool.

      "Dad, check this out! I extracted some blood from a mosquito encased in amber and added it to some frog eggs that I found...Hey, they hatched!!! Where did my little baby go?"

      • No matter how technically incorrect the proceedurees described in the original Jurassic Park, we all know that when a home DNA-combining kit is released, there'll be a worldwide shortage of "defective" amber...
    • DNA Sequencing ? As Homer Simpson would put it, "Boring !" I mean, "see kid, this barcode is different from this barcode, this is a black bean DNA and this is a green pea DNA", "dad, can't I go back to my playstation ?".

      Most scientific experiments are boring until you understand the underlying principles. If you drop two balls of different weights from a tower, would they hit the ground at the same time? If you don't understand the point of the experiment, then you're just dropping balls from a building

  • A Toy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QueenOfSwords ( 179856 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:37AM (#7723778) Homepage
    Could any biochemists comment on the likely limitations of this kit? Ok, obviously it's a toy, but what limitations look like they've been placed on this thing? I know we're all making jokes about 'Daddy's not junior's father' but sadly :) I can't see this thing having the resolution to provide that much information.
    Obviously it won't have the more dangerous chemicals mentioned previously, and sample purity would be a bit of a joke, but I'm curious as to how well, if at all, this thing would work, and how?
    • Re:A Toy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Marcus Brody ( 320463 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:57AM (#7723857) Homepage
      DNA quality would be poor... but good enough to be usable in the laboratory. It basic cell-lysis, seperation of organic/inorganic phases and alcohol-precipitation of DNA.

      You could use this for PCR, and then do many things with it. You could potentially have a "deluxe" version of the kit for $1000 dollars, including:

      1. Basic thermocylcer
      2. Reagents/Enzyme for PCR
      3. Primers for PCR
      4. Reagents/Enzyme for restriction digestion

      The kit could then be used for (basic, potentially problematic) paternity testing.

      • The kit could then be used for (basic, potentially problematic) paternity testing.

        As I'm sure you realize, there are other issues besides the science--unless you can interpret the results as easily as on an EPT test, you'll get more lawsuits than'll be worthwhile.
      • It basic cell-lysis, seperation of organic/inorganic phases and alcohol-precipitation of DNA.

        Which is... what?

        You could use this for PCR

        Which is... what?
      • You forgot to add $500 to Perkin-Elmer for a PCR license ;)
    • Well it will never give you a full dna report as you need to do more than just a simple gell. I am curious as to what the enzymes are. My guess is that they are specific for certain base patterns and cut the DNA into smaller pieces. (Alternatives they could be peptiases and just eat up the protein from the peas) The smaller pieces will transverse the gell faster than the larger pieces. So while the experiment will detect DNA all it will be able to report on is how many pieces of DNA you can create with t
    • by grouse ( 89280 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @09:02AM (#7723869)
      Quite simply there is no sequencing ocurring. It's merely separation of DNA molecules. This will just tell you their size. There's not sufficient information in the article or the store blurb [] for me to figure out if restriction enzymes [] are being included, which would make things slightly more interesting. In the days before PCR and DNA sequencing was as easy as it is now, genetic tests were done via Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms, so your DNA would break up into differently sized bits depending on which sequence was present at a cutting site.
      • There's not sufficient information in the article or the store blurb for me to figure out if restriction enzymes are being included, which would make things slightly more interesting.

        I suspect there are no restriction enzymes. Its extracting total genomic DNA from pea (with options for chicken liver) the DNA will appear as a smear on the gel regardless of digestion. Its probably extracting DNA by ethanol precipitation [] looking at the slimey mass of DNA going yuck , then running out a premade DNA ladder

      • the days before PCR and DNA sequencing was as easy as it is now, genetic tests were done via Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms

        Actually, this technique is still the primary one used today, I believe. PCR is used to prep samples for RFLP, bt sequencing isn't generally used where it could become evidence in a court case (lawsuit or criminal).

        The reason is that courts are all about precedence. Nobody wants to be the prosecution going into a case with a "brand new technique" that the defence will t
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:43AM (#7723802)
    It would seem that products like this one (or maybe slightly more professional versions) would eventually support distributed human genome sequencing efforts by individuals. More data on the DNA sequences of more people would help scientists, biomed, and pharma types understand the genetic variability of people.

    I guess the next frontier is Sequencing@Home with people bragging about how many of their own base pairs or chromosomes they have sequenced.
    • Great Leap Forward (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kimmop ( 121096 )
      Distributed genotyping sounds like a good idea at first but you should be woried about quality controls. I mean I've seen "Molecular biology for Computer Scientists (PhDs)" courses where people sequence their own (as in "..flesh and blood") samples and after a BLAST search find out that they are more of an E.Coli than Human.

      Actually this remainds me of Chinas " Great Leap Forward []" when Mao thought it would be a great idea to have people produce steel in their backyards. Needless to say the little steel prod

      • Yes, with current technology it is a waste. But with other technology it could be useful. For example bio-remediation or myco-remediation could easily be a back yard project or a massive billion square kilometer project.
    • Home equipment will have to get a LOT better to compete with the professional lab.

      The sequencers that are used to sequence genomes these days cost about $100k and require 15 minutes of operator time per day. They can conduct about 100 sequencing operations simultaneously. Each cycle takes probably a few hours at most. Each cycle generates around 600 bases of useful sequence. So one of these machines generates around 360 kilobases of DNA in a day (600 bases x 100 parallel operations x 6 sets of parallel
    • There's a long way to go to get there. Despite the headline, there is no sequencing going on. All you do with this kit is compare the size and number of chromosomes, as far as I can tell.

      So if the letters on the page of a book are the "sequence", a book would be a gene, a library a chromosome, and all the branches of a library in a large city would be a genome. What this kit does is compare the number of libraries and their relative sizes in two or more big cities (say L.A. and N.Y.C.). It doesn't even com
  • by Wansu ( 846 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:46AM (#7723810)

    This is a great way to show kids how DNA tests work. I'm all for anything that would help de-mystify DNA testing in the minds of the public. It's particularly gratifying to see that they'll discover it's ultimately a human being making a judgement call about what he or she sees with a microscope.

  • good (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rumagent ( 86695 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:51AM (#7723826)
    Finally I can find that elusive gene for intimate knowlegde of d&d ver 3.5...

    Now all I need is the gene for big breasts, blond hair and low standards, and I might end up with the perfect wife after all.
  • What's next, the Fisher Price Cloning kit?

    No not Fisher Price... Fisher priced [].
  • Just bet you never thought Elroy Jetson would beat out Star Wars, first robots sweeping the carpet (ala Rosie) and now REAL SCIENCE PROJECTS!!!!!!!

    Next comes the ejection-bed alarm system!
  • by pgolik ( 526039 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @09:04AM (#7723875) Homepage
    I took a little time to read the description [] of the kit on Discovery's website. It's much less than the /. post suggested. There's just some chemicals and a toy centrifuge to extract DNA. Actually there are ways to extract DNA with household chemicals, precipitate with isopropanol and spool on a glass or plastic rod. So far it's only DNA extraction, cool as a science-for-fun thing, but nothing new. The analysis part (with electrophoresis) seems to be fake (simulated, if you wish). The kit, according to the Discovery website contains "DNA stain (fabricated to mimic real DNA)". So, it's just a toy, cool, but nothing that'll allow Junior to test his paternity or do any real DNA analysis. There are educational kits that provide real DNA analysis in a classroom environment (like the Biotechnology Explorer [] program from BioRad), but they still require teacher's supervision.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 15, 2003 @09:08AM (#7723888)
    Swapping and trading DNA over the net, that's the ticket!

    You have to be careful however. Last night I downloaded and cloned Madonna, but she just stood there screaming "What the hell do you think you're doing?". It turns out that companies post fake DNA to flood the network. Bummer! It was such a pain disassembling the clone afterwards too.

    • Man, that comment is freaking halarious.. I almost spewed my drink.
    • "Swapping and trading DNA over the net, that's the ticket!"

      While I couldn't help but laugh at your post, I also couldn't help but think of the serious truth it may hold. Imagine how the music world got flipped upside down by Napster and its ilk. Now we're seeing those 3D printers get cheaper and more powerful, they can even print electronic circuits now. How long before blueprints are traded over P2P and you simply download them and print out your new iPod?

      But this REALLY gets interesting once gene ther

  • Sorry, the poster and Wired got it wrong. The original source calls this a gene mapper. That probably means it includes restriction enzymes for cutting the DNA into chuncks. This is not the same as finding the primary sequence. Sequencing by all current common methods requires either radioactivity or a fluorescent laser detection device. Neither of which is likely to be provided for $80. (Or I'd buy it for my lab!!)
  • after they bought Microsoft, anything is possible...
  • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:14AM (#7724171)
    What's next, the Fisher Price Cloning kit?

    No, its the biotech killer app that will start a civil war in 10-15% (average region dependent) of all households on the planet ...

    Over the counter, at your local drugstore, genetic paternity tests.......

    Whoever markets the first reliable one will be richer than Bill Gates.
  • Cool... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bif Powell ( 726774 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @10:16AM (#7724183)
    That's one more thing to add to my list of 'stuff-that-scifi-authors-said-we-would-have-by-20 10'.

    Fix your eyes with friggin' lasers.
    Communications the size of a pack of smokes (cell phones)
    The Internet
    Video Conferencing (and even Video Telephones)
    Terrorists with WMDs
    Robot that vaccuums

    and now...Toys for Sequencing DNA for Junior. Heinlein et al would be proud :)

    Still waiting for flying (or automatic/autopilot) cars, permanent station on Moon/Mars (I'll accept either), Cancer/Common-cold cure (I'll accept either), humanoid robot for menial tasks around the house, acceptable voice control/communications in conjunction with useful AI computing...etc...
    • sigh, I'm home with a cold, cleaning...

      When is this supposed to happen. The electrolux vacuum is tempting though.

    • Wait! I just RTFA. I think the Marble Marvel thingy is way cool.

      Christ I'm tuning into a luddite, and enjoying it. When do I get chucked off /.?

  • over at
    you can get a different but more professional dna in a tin kit ?language=en-GB&product=DNATIN&category=LIFE
    its not DIY though, its a mail in DNA kit
  • High school kids have been doing DNA projects in science fairs for a decade now as the technology trickles down. You dont even need access to a scientist's relative lab anymore.
    • Non-Geeks have been performing stochastic DNA recombination for hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of years. It seems that the secret ingredient is...a girlfriend!
  • of some kit one of my teachers always told about

    one could get it on the internet (hoax or truth? no clue)

    it was called 'be your own god' and contained all kinds of materials to clone genes for bacterial toxins and stuff. anthrax a go-go :\

    anyways i suspect that, if it ever was available, it won't be now, given the whole 9-11 situation and the anthrax scares and all...
    • Re:reminds me (Score:3, Insightful)

      by danheskett ( 178529 )
      I tell you what.. drop any farmer with some cows a quick note and you'll be able to find someone who has direct access to anthrax in no time..

      It's not really a hugely deadly and/or rare find. It's pretty plain vanilla...
      • tell me about it... i am a molecular/cell biologist

        i know about Bacillus antracis (though i won't bother to spellcheck the name now ;) )

        but a kit with the things on plasmid (i presume) is a bit over the top don't you think? it made me wonder then... anyway now, with the sequence probably available at some genomics site (or is that protected too?) it would be a few dyas work to clone and express the (gene encoding the) toxin.

        ah well.


        and blah

        anyway, as i said, no clue whether it was just some urban
  • by LuxFX ( 220822 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @01:36PM (#7726031) Homepage Journal the age old question by all the kids that never fit in, and always wondered if they were really adopted.
  • I'd much rather have a Build-a-Man kit, which is for the serious hobbyist thank you.

    Some would claim that creating clones with the Fisher-Price Clone Kit is nothing more than "Child's Play," wereas serious people (like William Tenn) would prefer a serious kit.

    Remember, kids, only Build-a-Man can build a man!

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.