07 May 2016

A 3D Printed Electrophoresis System

May 7, 2016 | F.Lab With the centrifuge working well enough to extract DNA, and the stirrer waiting for a practical application to test it (stirring agar solution?), we've decided to move on to an electrophoresis system next to help visualize our DNA samples.

We're building a very compact, simple system to start with and learn from. From this, we can move on to bigger and better systems.

15 January 2016

F.Lab 3D Printed Lab Equipment Goes to Real Lab

January 15, 2016 | F.Lab This week we got an opportunity to take part in a molecular biology workshop at King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT). You can read more about the workshop itself here. We also thought we'd bring along some of the lab equipment we developed, including 3D printed tube racks (some of which we gave to KMUTT as a token of appreciation) and our centrifuge.

We even got to use the centrifuge briefly for one part of the protocol, along side other industry-made centrifuges so we could contrast and compare.

For a real small group of DIYbiologists, our lab equipment would probably work great. For large groups participating in a workshop, probably not so great. So perhaps in the next iteration of our centrifuge, or perhaps a lower-cost workshop version, we will make it easier to use.

Workshop Opens Eyes to the Complexity/Simplicity of Biotechnology

January 15, 2016 | ProgressTH Whether you realize it or not, biology itself is a sort of technology. It is a set of tools that have been naturally developed to allow organisms, including us, to survive in a variety of environments. Just like a high-tech solar panel provides our homes and places of work with electricity, our biology provides our bodies with energy, as well as defenses against a long list of threats big and small, and the ability to move through and appreciate the planet we live on.

Students learn how to load and program a thermocycler  which heats and cools DNA, combining them with primers, to help isolate sequences of interest for further examination. 
Human beings have, over time, learned to use the tools of biology in a wide range of novel ways. Aspects of certain bacteria allow us to cut, copy, paste, amplify, and analyze DNA. This allows us to understand life on a molecular level, as well as re-engineer it in a variety of ways to serve our various needs.

All of this is done in the molecular biology lab.

18 December 2015

What is Do-It-Yourself Biology?

December 18, 2015 | ProgressTH Talk of DNA and biotechnology generally conjures up images of movie monsters or talk of large agricultural companies that use genetic engineering to modify organisms (GMOs). And for the longest time to ordinary people, biotechnology really was something they could only see in fiction or in practice in the hands of large, well-funded corporations and institutions. 

F.Lab in Bangkok, Thailand is seeking to use DNA barcoding to identify, protect, and promote organic varieties of rice in Thailand. It uses its own DIY lab equipment 3D printed and assembled at local makerspace, Maker Zoo.  

But like computers, which also started out as an inaccessible curiosity to regular people, biotechnology is finally making its way into the hands of a much larger community.

Enter DIYbio 

That's where the DIYbio movement comes in. DIYbio is the local use of the tools and techniques of biotechnology by regular people who may not be trained scientists, but have an interest in biotechnology nonetheless.

05 December 2015

Basic DNA Extraction Protocol

December 5, 2015 | F.Lab Instructables features a basic DNA extraction protocol titled 5 Minute DNA Extraction in a Shot Glass (by user macowell). It claims to create a drinkable shot that contains your own DNA extracted from your saliva. It is highly recommended that you do not drink such a shot containing dish soap, but it is still a quick way to extract and see DNA.

We also employed a few tips from this online video courtesy of Cold Spring Harbor's DNA Learning Center. If you've never tried anything like this before or would like to know more about DNA barcoding, this is an excellent video.

We've been using this with a slight modification. Instead of using over-proof rum, we used rubbing alcohol but because of this, now you really can NOT consume the DNA!