I have loved a lot of Craigslist ads in my time, but I truly love this one the most. It sounds like a plot ripped from The Avengers, crossed with VC-funded biotech startup madness.
Here’s what the ad says:
I am a billionaire who needs help creating a mouth wash.solution.gum with CRISPR-Cas9 containing viruses that will change specific genetic loci in my cheek epithelial cells to prevent a positive match against DNA found at the scene of a crime (my DNA was planted by a Doctor who is Doomed).
*CRISPR-Cas9 engineering of mammalian epithelial cells
*Experience in DNA forensics
*Experience with Robotics
*Between 5’9” and 6’0” in height and medium build in case I need you to wear a custom built “suit”
*Must code in Python, Haha, joking, we will write everything in C and Assembly
Non-Drinkers preferred (I am a recovering alcoholic)
EMT Certified preferred. Please send CV.
So the “custom built suit” does sound awfully Tony Stark, but sometimes truth imitates fiction, OK? Plus, anybody who makes sarcastic jokes about C and Assembly programming has to be for real.
The real question is: Why does this billionaire need a “CRISPR-Cas9” engineer? Presumably to do gene splicing or alteration of some kind. CRISPR is a genetic engineering system, and Cas9 is a protein that’s used to cut DNA in a very exact spot. The combination of the two things suggests somebody who — well — wants to alter their DNA.
As George Dvorsky explains over at io9, CRISPR was one of the breakthrough genetic engineering technologies in 2013:
CRISPR works by targeting and eliminating specific DNA sequences with matching strands of RNA. What’s more, the system is easily manipulated – since researchers first reported harnessing the system in January,writes Elizabeth Pennisi in a perspective piece for Science, “various groups have used it to delete, add, activate or suppress targeted genes in human cells, mice, rats, zebrafish, bacteria, fruit flies, yeast, nematodes and crops, demonstrating broad utility for the technique.” For scientists in search of new tools, few qualities are more important than versatility and ease of use. CRISPR has both – and, some say, the potential to revolutionize the field of molecular biology.
I hope that this billionaire finds a genetic engineer to aid in the fight against a “Doctor who is Doomed.” Please don’t let this a viral campaign for Fantastic Four, as some people have suggested. That would destroy all my faith in humanity.