Interview with Synova Life Sciences | Stem Cell Harvesting Device Project

Kindly tell us a bit about Synova Life Sciences?


Synova Life Sciences Team

Synova Life Sciences is a biotech company currently focused on enabling technologies for stem cells.  The big vision at Synova is to be able to restore a person to a young and healthy state from chronic and degenerative conditions that arise out of aging and injuries.  New discoveries are being made every day about the mechanisms through which stem cells are able to repair, replace, rejuvenate and regenerate.  We’re starting with making it possible for everyone to get access to their own stem cells quickly and safely, a major step towards removing the bottlenecks around scaling personalized regenerative medicine.

Tell me something about your project? (Just one project)

We’re currently developing a stem cell harvesting device that can quickly and safely extract a patient’s own stem cells from his or her own adipose tissue (fat).  Our system is completely closed and sterile, and would enable patients to be treated with their own stem cells, without surgery, by their own doctors, through a minimally invasive, same-day, office procedure.  One of the distinguishing characteristics of our device is that it doesn’t use any enzymes or chemicals to retrieve stem cells from a patient’s fat, which is the current gold standard.  Even more, our initial data suggests that we’re able to get more cells, 2 to 3 times faster than getting them with enzymes.  Initially, we’re looking at applications of these cells in osteoarthritis and cartilage regeneration, as well as for complementing surgical repairs for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.

Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)?

John Chi

BS Electrical Engineering, Stanford; MBt Biotechnology, Cal State Fullerton; he has served and led in corporate and academic environments. Prior to founding Synova, John led the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Cal State Fullerton as its expert IT analyst from 2004-2010. Before joining the University, John was CTO and co-founder of post-production company Digital Quest, Inc. until its acquisition in 2004.  John has directed stem cell differentiation to create both fat (adipocytes) and bone (osteocytes), and has also worked with recombinant DNA techniques in bacteria to splice and study genes for antibiotic resistance and drug discovery.

Ray Raven

BS Molecular Biology / Biochemistry, UC Irvine; MD, UCSF, MBA UC Irvine; Dr. Raven is a Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon with subspecialty fellowship training in Hand & Upper Extremity Surgery. He has Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in both Surgery of the Hand and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine - one of only a few surgeons in California with this distinction. He is an Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine.  He has 5 patents and has developed several medical devices used to treat hand and upper extremity fractures. As the Medical Director of Buena Vista Surgery Center, Dr. Raven oversees the quality and value of healthcare delivery for a large patient population within the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys.

Mark Richman

BA English Literature, Stanford; MD UCSF; MPH Johns Hopkins; Dr. Richman is an Emergency Medicine Physician and Associate Director of Performance Improvement at the Northwell Health Long Island Jewish Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine. He is also the Medical Director of Northwell Health’s Health Solutions’ Disease Management Programs. Trained also in Internal Medicine, he was previously a Physician Innovator, Director of Primary Care, Patient Safety Officer, Performance Improvement Officer, Clinical Information Technology Officer, and Medical Director of Employee Health at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, while an Associate Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Before working for Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, he worked with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ Clinical Resource Management Program

What are the challenges you encountered to make this project successful? 

One of the biggest challenges we faced early on was to determine what the regulatory path for our project would be.  When we first started looking at the idea in 2012, the area of clinical autologous stem cell use was very poorly defined and was really a moving target.  So those conditions made it very challenging to nail down how we could bring a stem cell product to market quickly on a relatively small amount of funds and without having to go through the lengthy clinical trial process.  Part of the challenge was also about figuring out just exactly what that stem cell product would be.  We‘ve gone through many iterations of stem cell products and associated business models before arriving at where we’re at right now – the device.  Even now, it has still been evolving as we continue to dig deeper and refine.

How did you get the funding of this project?

We’re completely self-funded and haven’t taken any outside money yet.

What motivates you to create this project?

So much is about friends and family.  My dad is developing osteoarthritis in his hip and back and I don’t want him to have to suffer through chronic pain and have to constantly take painkillers like so many others that I’ve seen with more advanced cases.  I also have a lot of friends who have injured their joints in some way: torn ACLs, bad rotator cuffs, bad knees and other joints.  They would be able to benefit directly from what we’re doing.  We’re also looking ahead to the myriad of other applications that are being developed using stem cell interventions – nerves, brain, heart, lungs, tissue engineering – you name it.  We want to be able to extend human life along with the quality of life.  When I’m 1,000 years old, I want to be healthy and active, and I want to have some 1,000-year-old friends along for the ride who are also healthy and active – and for my parents too! 

What equipments did you use/are using? (If applicable)

3-gas incubator, biosafety hood, centrifuge, autoclave, 2˚C and -20˚C cold storage – to name a few.  We’re currently on the hunt for a flow cytometer because that’s a piece that we’ll be needing in some upcoming studies.

When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finished it?

We really got going on this particular project in 2014, and we made some major discoveries in 2015.  I don’t know that there’s really a state of “finished” – more like having hit major milestones, like having our device scaled-up and being manufactured and sold.  This would mean we’ve gone through lots and lots of testing, regulatory approvals, design and engineering, and market launch.  From our conversations with regulatory folks and contract manufacturers, that’s likely one-and-a-half to two years from now.

In what aspect do you think your project can help the people or the world?

In addition to extending life and improving the quality of life, there are so many people in the world suffering from inflammatory conditions, degenerative disease, damaged tissue and organs who would ultimately be able to benefit from easy access to their own stem cells.  Getting the stem cells is just the starting point.  What happens next once you have the stem cells is wide open.  They can be seeded into scaffolds for tissue engineering, or directed down different lines of differentiation to become other cells and tissue.  It could be certain growth factors that are extracted from the cells to promote healing in certain areas.  The cells could be modified or genetically engineered to perform specific functions.  Even though adipose tissue is an abundant source of stem cells, the separation process for getting stem cells from adipose tissue is right now quite tedious in the lab.  By making it quick, safe and easy, we could encourage more research using adipose-derived stem cells, which could lead to more therapies, applications and cures from this abundant source of stem cells.

What are your plans after this project?

After completing the device, we have plans to pursue some clinical applications of the stem cells we get from the device.  We have a few candidates identified, investigating areas ranging from tissue engineering to heart attack to fertility.  

Do you think your project would be successful and useful?

Absolutely.  There are pieces of it now that we are very close to completing and offering to people in the next couple of months.  In terms of being successful and useful, we’ll be able to start helping people very soon through our current endeavors – and monetize as well.  “Done” or not, that’s our project already being successful and useful.  Looking further down the road to a time when this particular project would be considered done, yes, it will be successful and useful.

Interview with Kevin Chen | CEO & Co-founder | Hyasynth Bio

Tell me something about your project? (Just one specific project you have right now)

Hyasynth is creating a new class of drugs, based around the phytocannabinoids. We're changing the supply chain and making it easy for companies and investors to fund new therapeutics based on the successes that we've seen coming from cannabis in nature. It's a typical human progression from a natural phenomenon to a well-understood, and widely available set of products.

Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)? 

Our founding team consists of Shoham, Zach, Alex and myself. Our lead advisor is Vince Martin. Our main expertise is in metabolic engineering.

What are the challenges you encountered? 

Plenty of things. We've got regulation around every aspect of our project, and that goes on top of the typical challenges that you'd see from a biotech development.

How did you get the funding? 

We were part of the first-ever cohort of IndieBio in the summer of 2014 in Cork, Ireland. From there, raised a follow-on round and received a good chunk of funding from the Government of Canada.

What motivates you to create this project? 

My projects need to be really challenging and really interesting. They need to hit relevance within two or three years of the start date. Anything later than that can be developed after this project, and anything earlier will be irrelevant before the project gets finished.

What equipments did you use/are using? 

Various. I can't really name one particular thing, but it's the same types of things you'd see at any metabolic engineering company.

When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finished it? 

The project started in 2014. It will be finished within the next couple years. Things will start coasting exponentially soon.

In what aspect do you think your project can be useful to people or let's just say, of changing the world? 

We're enabling a new class of drugs to be developed that are related to over 100 different diseases. It's an untapped potential that we're enabling. In many cases, prescription drugs have harsher side effects compared to a phytocannabinoid. We're changing phytocannabinoids from being a last resort drug, to a good first try.

What are your plans after this project? 

Bigger problems, harder challenges. This one has a good set of challenges going into it, but there's more out there.

Do you think your project would be successful and useful? 


Shaun Moshasha | Co-Founder | Charlottesville Open Biolabs |

So, a bit of context about our lab before I dive into the projects: We started up just under a year ago and have been working to figure out the best business model to keep ourselves afloat while serving the community, and what we've landed upon is an education based approach.  We are creating classes, field trips, summer camps, after school programs, etc. targeted towards high school kids in order to sustain our lab.  To that end, one of the projects we are currently working on is a mycelium based water filter.  

Tell me something about your project? 

Mycelium is naturally good at filtering out pathogens, heavy metals, and organic compounds (each species differs on it's specificity).  We in lab are attempting to identify the species which filters out compounds relevant to an ideal use case and design a system that would allow the mycelium to replace a traditional water filter.  Our first target is to design a filter for the Eco Village (a local compound), who is looking to build a completely natural, no chemicals added pool.

Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)? 

The team is comprised entirely of High School kids.  We have started an Open Bio Labs club at a local high school.  The kids that are part of that club come to the lab once a week to monitor and build their mycelium project.  Additionally, we are working with a Mr. Mark Jones, a local mushroom farmer, who has a pretty extensive knowledge of mycelium.

What are the challenges you encountered? 

The biggest challenge we face is organizing the team.  Since this is no one's job, it is very easy for the project to go untended.  Maintaining the team's enthusiasm and discipline to see the project through is by far the toughest challenge.

How did you get the funding of this project? 

As of yet we have not received any funding for this project.  We have a lot of the materials necessary for the experiments already in the lab. The rest of the cost is borne by the team members.  However, the lab plans on raising funding at a higher level to support student projects like these.

What motivates you to create this project? 

Mycelium is a really cool organism.  This is a way for us to play around with it while learning about it.  The water filter is a good first target and can have a real impact on society, however the potential of mycelium itself it enormous and we would love to make that an area of expertise for our lab.

What equipments did you use/are using? 

For this project, nothing much. We have a pressure cooker (autoclave) and abide by aseptic technique.

When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finished it? 

This project was started in June 2016 and we hope to have some results by the end of August 2016.

In what aspect does your project can help the people? 

I'm a bit confused by this question. But if you are asking about impact on society, we are looking at natural water filtration.  Imagine all the pesticides, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and all the other nasty stuff running into your water.  If we can plant mycelium beds in riparian zones, perhaps along all waste water outlets, then our water quality could improve substantially.

What are your plans after this project? 

After this project, we will work on another project!

(If project is not yet done) Do you think your project would be successful and useful? 

Yes, I believe this project will be both successful and useful.

Interview with Alexander Murer | Founder | Open Biolab Graz Austria

The "Open BioLab Graz Austria" or "OLGA" is an open joint laboratory for molecular biologist , bio-hacking and part of real space s. 
Use the menu next to the logo to learn more about us. 

They provide space for new ideas! Students, pupils or hobbyists of (molecular) biology and related fields barely have the possibility to pursue their own ideas; they provide the equipment and room for own projects. They work together to build machinery and create protocols to achieve the most with limited ressources. Compared to molecular biology, there is hardly any field where fresh ideas can make such a difference. Joining and working at OLGA is free of charge.

Tell me something about your project? 
Personally, I see managing the biohackerspace as my main "project". Right now I amongst others are establishing CRISPR/Cas9 for yeast there, others are looking to produce several chemical compounds in yeast.

Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)? 
Most of us are students of molecular biology or dropouts, personally I run my own biotech start-up besides being a dropout. When it's about making lab machinery work, also people with electronic/programming background usually get involved.

So, how many are you now in Open Biolab Graz Austria?
About 10 people are tinkering there on a regular basis, many more visit more or less often for meetups, talks etc.

What are the challenges you encountered?
Especially limited time due to my job. Takes plenty of time to get and keep projects & teams going,  especially when you try to do too much yourself to save money. 
Also working with limited resources like few lab devices.

How did you get the funding of this project? 
Some resources come from the biohackerspace, which is funded by small membership fees, benefit-parties, prize money and student association grants. Some resources are donated by my startup and privat.

What motivates you to create this project? 
The certainty that we with our biohackerspace can implant and apply cutting edge technologies in the field.

What equipments did you use/are using? 
Apart from standard lab equipment we could recently aquire a cooling centrifuge and a capillary electrophoresis system.

Can you tell us something what cooling centrifuge and a capillary electrophoresis system do?
Centrifuges are frequently used in biolabs to seperate solvents from dispersed particles, like bacteria from water. A cooling centrifuge is an important tool for biolabs, because it is able to cool liquids while beeing centrifuged, which is important in some cases, like to genetically modifying cells.

Capillary Electrophoresis systems are a more sophisticated version of gel boxes to analyse DNA for example. They apply voltages of 30kVolts and more, which results in a much faster analysis speed, than with a gel box, which usually works with 0,2kV.

When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finished it? 
Half year ago.

What do you think your project can be useful to help the world? 
Rather trying to make high technology accessible than saving the world.

What are your plans after this project? 
I'm also involved with the "Engineers Sans Frontieres" and working on a water analysis project.

Lastly, can you give us a brief of the what "Engineers Sans Frontieres" is?
The Engineers Sans Frontieres are similar to the better known and older organisation Medicines Sans Frontieres. Both work in the field of development aid, but the Engineers are more involved in engineering projects like water supply, housing and other infrastructure projects.

Alex Murer - "Learning and having fun is always useful."

An Interview with Richel Bilderbeek

Tell me something about your project?  
I am working on setting up a course teaching biology with the DIYbio philosophy  
Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)?  
DIYbio Groningen and stichting De Jonge Onderzoekers Groningen and stichting Fablab Groningen  What are the challenges you encountered?  Finding volunteers to help teaching  

How did you get the funding of this project?  
It came from our members  

What motivates you to create this project?  
Teaching is important in the goal of bringing biology within reach of the common 

What equipments did you use/are using?  
Our self-made electrophoresis tray, our self-made transa=illuminator, an ex-university PCR, ex-university microscopes and sometimes we borrow equipment from the universty   

When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finished it?  It will start when there are enough people. It will end when there are no more students or people  

In what aspect does your project can help the people? 
It will reduce misconceptions about biology. It will inspire younger generations.  

Do you think your project would be successful and useful?  
Absolutely Yes.

IRNAS - Institute for Development of Advanced Applied Systems Rače Projects


Irnas development facilities and operations are a part of Tkalka, a creative center in the heart of Maribor, co-located with a number of creative organizations and fablab Kreatorlab. Their mission is to strive to apply the vast scientific knowledge to everyday reality by creating effective and affordable systems. They believe in an open-source world and sharing. They aim to empower the world with technologies that improve lives, let that be an advanced communication system or a simple everyday utensil. Irnas is a non-profit, rewarding the ones that create, always exploring new projects and ideas.

To support their full-time work and evolution of projects, they encourage everyone finding their work useful and more importantly being used for profit, to financially support them.

Their work is published under open-source open-hardware licenses, details specified in individual projects. What this means is that you can use hardware, firmware, software and documentation without paying a royalty and knowing that you'll be able to use your version forever. You are also free to make changes but if you share these changes then you need to acknowledge the original source and publish derivatives under the same conditions that you enjoy. The work may be used for any purposes.

Irnas is also kindly asking everyone to support their efforts with donations, if you actively use more then one replication of their systems or it is a part of a process creating revenue. If you would like to manufacture and sell their designs under their original project names, just get in touch with them.

Here's our short interview with the team.

Tell me something about your project?
At Institute IRNAS (, we develop hardware ranging from wireless optical communication systems ( to CNC machines (, all of them open-source and in February 2016 we also started the biolab project ( Joining experience from scientific research, together with our expertise in machine development, we wish to make science available to everyone and thus narrow the gap between research and its public understanding.


Our main bio-related project at the moment is the development of good enough/DIY laboratory equipment. A great many contributions were already made to DIY lab equipment by the amazing and ever growing community of biohackers, DIY biologists and others. The Hackteria network (, the Waag Society (, Public Lab ( to name a few. Also, much of the work can already be found on databases such as Appropedia ( or the PLOS collections ( As the community and the collection of equipment grows, however, also a few problems are becoming evident:
- Most databases don't have a structure that is related to its content, thus it is increasingly difficult to find what you need,
- many pieces of equipment were made for a one-time or a very specific use, are not fully developed or (often) poorly documented,
- despite many people adding to the database, certain pieces of equipment are still missing for a fully functional laboratory.

To tackle these issues, we first begun the writing of a comprehensive and easily browsable/searchable labware review, which will be a guide for our own development, as well as a free online resource for those who seek insight in the existing DIY bio-lab projects. The first iteration of the review took approximately 3 months to write and comprises an overview of (almost) all commonly used devices in a biological laboratory, ranging from preparatory equipment, microscopy, spectrometry, chromatography, cell culture, molecular methods and electrophysiological methods. It is fully available on github ( and is planned to be extended in the future. We are happy to say, that the community has recognized the value of the review and now also people from other organizations have started to contribute to the github repository.

The second part of the project is the actual development of laboratory equipment and currently we are working on a universal controller for preparatory equipment. This should allow the integration with many different devices and simplify construction of let's say magnetic stirrers, centrifuges, etc.


Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)?
Our biolab - symbiolab ( is part of Institute IRNAS, an open hardware development laboratory in Maribor, Slovenia, with the mission to apply recent advances in science and technology to open systems and empower individuals worldwide. We work closely with the fablab Kreatorlab (, where prototypes are created and tested and where often workshops take place. People of different professions contribute to this project in particular, ranging from biologists, electronic and mechanical engineers, economists, etc. All of our team members are still young people, aged between 20 and 30 years.

What are the challenges you encountered?
We were very lucky to get a space at Tkalka ( - a coworking space and now also a co-op in central Maribor. We are able to use the facilities for our own purposes for merely running costs and since the building was once a pharmaceutical research facility, it is relatively easy to build a research lab from an infrastructural as well as bureaucratical point of view. While quite a few parts of the facility require renovation, this can be done in long term, as right now the space is adequate for simple bio-research purposes: simple wet preparation and analysis (microscopy, spectrometry, chromatography).
We obtained many generous donations from local science suppliers, the local university as well as foreign research institutions. In general, however, we are currently financed by the Shuttleworth Foundation ( through a Fellowship awarded to Luka Mustafa - which will cover most operating costs for a period of 15 months and the employment service of Slovenia which covers a part of the staff fees. A lot of research is also done by students of the University of Maribor, which work here as a part of their diploma theses.
The biggest challenges we face at the moment are concerning our future development. We wish the space to operate sustainably on the long term, which will ultimately require more staff and additional funding. The latter we wish to cover with a combination of workshops, research grants and eventually for-profit kits, all of which will require time and effort and we will require a solid business plan by the end of 2016.

What motivates you to create this project?
The DIY community is incredibly creative and stimulating and is a great motivator by itself, but the development of open source projects also has other benefits. Not only does it provide a high moral value for society, it also seems that people are slowly recognizing that patented projects get copied anyway and are often accompanied by unproductive lawsuits. The other great thing with sharing ideas is that people around the world can not only copy, but also thinker and improve your project, making development ultimately faster and better for you. Also, we simply like research and development on its own.

What equipment did you use/are using?
For bio-research purposes we momentarily use donated equipment, such as weighing scales, pH meters, spectrometers, pipettes and stirrers, for the development of our own equipment on the other hand, we use standard electronic components (electronic boards, PCBs, resistors, etc.) as well as rapid prototyping equipment such as CNC laser cutters and 3D printers, many from our own GoodEnoughCNC series (


When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finish it?
The "bio-project" at IRNAS started in February 2016 and currently has funding until June 2017. Within this time we wish to make the biolab sustainable as an open hub for civil science. Considering the development of DIY labware, it also started in February 2016 and the first 3 months were used for writing the review on existing equipment. After the first few chapters were written, the development of the according equipment was initiated - namely preparatory devices. A universal controller is now being developed and should be finished not later than September 2016, also designs for the first prototypes are being developed. We hope to create a series of DIY preparatory equipment by the end of 2016 which we will be available for sale as kits and thus kickstart the development of other equipment.

How do you think your project can help the World?
We believe that the most we can do to help the World is sharing knowledge and giving people the tools to improve their lives on their own.

What are your plans after this project?
The project will ultimately be finished once we have developed a full set of lab equipment that is required for a wide range of bioresearch. When this is complete, we wish to implement the equipment in workshops, where people can learn about science and build and use their own equipment. In addition, we wish to put DIY equipment to the test, comparing the specifications with commercial lab equipment, try to replicate famous experiments and ultimately use our tools for original research. We also want to offer equipment and workshops to schools and universities as a part of an extended educational program.

Bio Beer Project | DIYbio Barcelona

DIY Bio Barcelona

We are growing our own yeasts and brewing our beer (we still need to buy the grains). The machines were hacked by us and automated (temperature control). But since we have moved, we need to re-install everything. The receipts we use are a mix of my brother’s receipts (He is a biotech engineer working in Seattle), some friends who brew, and our own additions and modifications. We have brew an IPA, a Stout, and two more batches of IPA. We brew mainly for internal consumption and for learning the process. We have noticed that people likes to ferment things, so we think this is a good start and it always helps bringing people and curious. Artisanal breweries are blooming in Barcelona and we want to help to the local scene by building machines and “lending” our setups to small/garage/home brewers. There is the pico brewer from kickstarter, but we see a different target. That one is quite expensive and targets mainly high ending consumers. Our approach is to make it open so anybody can join, learn and brew his own beer. This can be a starting point for future Master Brewers and of course this will improve the whole scene in Barcelona.

Tell me something about your project?
D:We like to ferment things. We like beer. My brother and some colleagues had prepared beer before in America so, we asked for some receipts and found out the required tools. Next week we were brewing our first batch of beer.

Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)?
D: It is mainly driven by Esteban and Daniel and enjoyed by everybody! Other friends help remotely with receipts/consulting in the beer process. Nuria helped with the yeast part and explained to us the importance of the yeast cycle. 

What are the challenges you encountered?
D: Firstly, open equipment. There are a lot of kits, but there were not many DIY kits. Besides that, the brewing world was completely unknown to us, so our first batches were done with the purpose of learning the process. After we got experience with the process and were able to reproduce a receipt, we decided to move to automate the equipment.

How did you get the funding of this project?
D: From ourselves and from the money we have saved doing our own beer. We got fermenters from donations, and we are also re-using old containers adding filters and valves so we do our own maceration container.

What motivates you to create this project?
D: We know that we will learn a lot through the process. We had to learn how to take care of our yeasts, and how to keep them happy throughout the whole brewing. Then we designed the machines re-using old equipment and adding arduino for controlling. The first motivation was to learn. Then there is the rewarding factor: high quality beer, brewed by yourself, and shared with people around. It is highly rewarding to see people's face when they realize we can do our own beer. It is like if suddenly they remember that beer is not only the canned industrialized watery you get in the store, but is a whole culture, and when done correctly, a highly nutrient beverage. You can easily notice the difference in body, fermentation, smell and taste between an industrial and a DIY beer.

What equipments did you use/are using?
D: 30 L temperature isolating container for maceration of the barley; 30 L container with temperature control using a PID embedded on Arduino, a 15 L glass fermenter and a 30 L stainless steel fermenter. As tools we have a densitometer,  A modified cooler box?, an industrial shaker, CO2 tramps, copper grids and valves.
But we are thinking in adding a turbidimeter or spectrometer in different stages of the process, adding ph sensors, and if possible, an alcohol sensor. Our dream was to automate the process to such level you could only add the materials and select the receipt you want. Run it and get your beer ready to ferment after six or eight hours.

When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finished it?
D: We started on summer last year, but the lab moving was in the middle so we are a bit on hold. We have done five batches already of IPA, stout and american IPA. For now, we want to focus on the equipment and the process.

What do you think your project can help the world?
D: I remember a saying about the handcraft brewing in America, "hand craft beer produced only 5% of the beer consumed in America, but it employed more than 50% of the people who works in this industry". They are very inefficient, but they produce a high quality product, nutrient, they create community and they employ people. So we thought this was our chance to lend a hand to the industry and develop a low cost, open source, DIY fermenting machine. We are aware of the pico-brewer or other kits, but they tend to be quite expensive.

What are your plans after this project?
D: Finish automating the whole process in a single machine that could be later used to ferment other beverages using yeast, or to adapt it to ferment with bacteria.

(If project is not yet done) Do you think your project would be successful and useful?
D: Yes. In the process we want to generate open protocols, open equipment and software which could be replicated by others around the world. So, more brewers will mean more variety of beer, more employment and more people enjoying a nice quality beer. So, everybody wins!

Raphaël Laurenceau | Truffle Hacking Project | BosLabs

Hack the truffle - select & find its inner microbes - produce its flavors - do DIYbio!

Raphaël Laurenceau is a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and he is one of the co-founders/co-organizers at BosLab. He is leading the Truffle hacking project.

Kindly tell us more about your project?

We have called this project ‘Truffle hacking’. The idea is to produce the delicious truffle aroma molecules from bacteria instead of from the fungus. This idea came after a publication in 2015 showing that bacteria and yeast living in symbiosis within the truffle are the main contributors to making the final aromatic molecules that we humans perceive as tasting delicious. The way we proceed is by isolating bacteria and yeasts from truffles, then cultivate them in a wide range of conditions to detect some aroma producer strains. Our next goal is to identify the aroma molecules, sequence the producer strains and possibly move the enzymes responsible for this production to E. coli, or boost the truffle aroma production in the wild strain.

Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)?

We are a team of four people on this project: one microbiologist and three true DIY biologists that are learning all the microbiology techniques along the way. 

What are the challenges you encountered?

The main challenge is time. We are not in a hurry and we do this project in our spare time as a hobby, however cells don’t wait! Very often it is necessary to start a culture for working on it a few days after, and planning all of this in extra work hours can be difficult.

How did you get the funding of this project?

For now Boslab memberships fees have paid for all the materials necessary (mostly plates, media and truffle for the beginning!), however quite soon we will definitely need to find some funding (Mass spectrometry analysis of the compounds produced, sequencing the genome of a strain, etc…). We’re confident that we will find some support for the project. Some companies have already proposed to help us.

What motivates you to create this project?

My personal motivation is for the thrill of playing with microbes, understanding how they work, and tweaking them so that they work for me. Another main motivation comes from the interaction with other DIY biologists. Whether they have experience or not, the common trait among all of us is a lot of curiosity, a fascination for biology, and all technologies coming out of it. 

What equipments did you use/are using?

The first essential piece of equipment for us is the autoclave. We also use an incubator, a PCR machine, and a freezer to store our strains.

When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finished it?

We started almost two months ago, and we have no idea when it will finish!

What are your plans after this project?

Start another one.

(If project is not yet done) Do you think your project would be successful and useful?

I am pretty confident we will be successful in identifying truffle producing microbes. Whether we will be able to turn this finding into an easier way to produce ‘natural’ truffle aromas from microbes, that’s very hard to say. We’ll see! 

Gilad Gomé | ZIKALIKA Project

Zika Virus

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

Well, thanks to Zikalika Project - Detection of Zika virus rapidly without the need for a laboratory in Brazil. This experiment is part of the Zika Virus Challenge Grant. They are developing a new diagnostic assay that identifies the presence of ZIKV and other viruses. The goal is an easy, rapid, economical, local & reliable test without the need of a lab or highly trained personnel.

We tried to get in touch with Zikalika team for a short interview and thanks to Gilad Gome, the Principal Investigator of this project for granting our request and here are the questions we asked:

Let's start with the ZIKV Project. Can you tell me something out it. What motivates you to start this project? Who is/are part of the team? How far have you done?

For me, this project is very important especially for the millions of people in Brazil. This is a life saving project. How do you feel about that?

Also, aside from the crowdfunding you started which I believe already earned $17k, do you have any other source? Are there any government or private institutions helping you financially?

When do you think this project will be completed and what's next?

Here's Gilad's answers:

Gilad Gome

I was about to open the first bio-hackerspace in Tel Aviv with Guy Aidelberg when the ZIKA virus started to appear in my feed, a media war full of false or non-verified claims about topics like : GMO mosquitos, pesticide and the cause of babies with neural damage basically shared carelessly on twitter, facebook and most main papers. BTW today ZIKA is declared a cause of microcephaly by the WHO. (not may,could or might).

So I decided to bring my previous knowledge in Diagnostics to this case. That day was 2 months ago. 

We started to read all known ZIKA virus literature, we identified the need for a reliable POC diagnostic and surveillance mechanism. 
Paralleled to that we found collaborators in Recife the epicenter of ZIKA outbreak.
LIKA institute in UFPE, landed here in Recife 4 week s ago. 

We got a donation from a Singularity University Alumni to get here and start work. it was supposed to be 2 donations, one of them bailed out and we had to be resilient and survive that. 

Once arrived to LIKA I saw the labs here and the people I knew we can make it work, so we started ordering reagents and supplies from the ODIN. 
Everything got stuck in customs. So all we could do was in-silico studies, comparing all new sequences and finding areas of interest for our assay in the genome of ZIKA. 

Today I am finally happy to announce we have all we need to start working, and we are now writing the experiments protocols with experts from 3 countries. (google doc is efficient!). 

you can see our team and read our labnotes on\zikalika

We are not supported by government, at least not at this point, we have submitted several grant applications to UK and US grants, but they take time and usually go to big\connected labs. we hope to win the extra 10K grant offered by  The 10K goes to the project with most backers, so if everyone can back us up with 1$ that will be great . 

Our assay is simple, it is not cutting edge, it just works. It works on isothermal amplification of unique sequences we chose from recently sequenced genomes of ZIKA. 

About Zika and Brazil: ZIKA virus is transmitted by mosquito. Brazil is a tropical country, everything wants to grow here, everything is wet once a day, it is heaven for all living things like humans, mosquitos, and viruses too... 

Our clinical lead Dr. Alexander Kumar expressed his feelings “It's been very hard seeing and hearing stories firsthand from mother’s and families whose lives have been affected by Zika virus­ now a proven cause of microcephaly. A test that is so reliable and affordable but is not complicated in that it could be performed by a twelve year old, living in a resource limited setting, it’s a potential game changer for doctors and patients worldwide”.

The current situation is making us think of ways to get this out to all people, by releasing all data we have when we get it ,and not wait to publish it on a research paper\or write a patent, in fact once we publish our primers no one can patent them (thats neat). secondly the aim is to call for designers to participate in a challenge to design the kit. My hope is that more people are inspired to do similar developments in their countries for Issues affecting their health. 
This is not the first or last virus we will need to deal with, keep that in mind. With travel increasing, human population and cities flowing with people we will see more viruses. 

We are all just DNA boxes, and viruses know how to jump from one box to the other. 

About the future: As long as People don't have access to data encoded in RNA\DNA flowing in their body I will aim to innovate ways to enable such. we see great things happening with Oxford nanopore, illumina and others, all aim to serve a researcher. I am curious about ways to interact with everyday people, like the pregnancy test. 
New DNA sequencing companies are offering data analysis, I think the data will cost money at first, but in years to come you will see that DATA like to be free, and people will work to set it free. sci-hub is a good example. 

People deserve ways to answer nucleic acid based questions. 
I would highlight the need for assays that don't require sample preparation, or easy sample preparations protocols and call for more biohackers to work on such. 

We all have the same DNA.