In July one of our members, accompanied by some friends, had an opportunity to visit the London Hackspace and their DIYbio lab. The London Hackspace recently moved to a new location on Hackney Road and is in one word, impressive. Divided over two floors are a recreational space, a dedicated classroom and various bays for wood and metal work, bicycle repair, PCB etching and storage space for personal projects.
In a room under the stairs, DIYbio London are setting up their new dedicated lab space, complete with PCR machines and centrifuges found on e-bay. We had the opportunity to meet with Simon Rose who took some time to show us around. They were gearing up to do some transformation experiments and it was nice to see quite a few members actively engaged with the project. If you want to keep up to date with their progress, you can check out their wiki.
While there we also ran into Alex Cureton-Griffiths, who when asked the question “what are you working on?” told us he was a part of SpaceGAMBIT. Turns out there is an active hackerspace space program… who knew!
The 12th of October 2013 DIYbio Groningen participated at the local Mini Maker Faire with the PCR workshop. This workshop aimed to show to the citizens the PCR machine at work, spread knowledge and awareness about DNA technology. Enthusiasts from DIYbio Groningen together with Pieter van Boheemen from Amsterdam’s Waag society presented the OpenPCR machine and involved people to make DNA experiment.
Who is the father?
People loved to see the PCR machine running – most of them saw the DNA amplification for the very fist time in real life. Children participated and some parents were curious to find out the DNA linkage with their kids. We tackled this task and succeeded to show the family relations via the DNA fingerprint test. In short, we amplified the so-called “cheeks DNA” of twelve participants with the primers specific for the D1S80 locus – one of many DNA locus used for DNA profiling. Despite the fact that just before sampling people were drinking coffee and having their sandwiches,
DNA of all twelve participants showed distinguishable patterns!
Moreover, all families could see the DNA similarities between parents and kids. FAMILY 1: Participants 1, 2, 4 who shared DNA band of 600 bp (base pairs) (pink marks). FAMILY 2: Participants 5, 6, 7 who shared DNA bands at 500 bp (green marks), 600 bp (orange marks), 700 bp (red marks). The first and the last lines with many bands are standards of DNA with know lengths which are used to estimate the length of the tested DNA fragments (from 50 to 1350 base pairs – see the reference at the left, note that the reference is shifted).
Many people agreed that PCR technology should be available to the whole community from families to the high school children. They liked the idea of having a PCR machine at home to play with DNA. The same evening we got emailed by several new friends.
DIYbio Groningen’s first workshop was at the local Makerfaire. We showcased our OpenPCR clone, explained our mission and how PCR works. By rinsing their mouth with saline, putting this in a PCR machine and then running a gel of the amplified DNA, participants could use a PCR to get their very own DNA fingerprint. Several of our own member were joined by Pieter van Boheemen, who also brought along the Waag society’s ‘official’ OpenPCR machine.
Alec, one of our members, gave a ‘maker talk’ about the virtues of open source design and the benefits of having access to PCR. The slides to this talk can be found here.
In June earlier this year a small group of people left Groningen headed to Amsterdam for the opening ceremony of the Waag Society’s wetlab.
We went there with a question:
How does one start a DIYbio group?
The ceremony was very interesting, and was followed by a weekend long European DIYbio meetup and workshops. We got to talk to Pieter van Boheemen who was instrumental in setting up the Open WetLab at the Waag society. His advice? Get started!