A French Teenager Turned The Bible And Quran Into DNA And Injected Them Into His Body

October 1, 2019

A child in France has taken parts of the Hebrew book of Genesis and the Arabic Quran, transcribed them into his DNA and injected them into his body – with a text on each thigh.

Adrien Locatelli, a 16-year-old high school student, posted a paper on the preprint server OS on Dec. 3 in which he said, “This is the first time someone has injected themselves with a macromolecule developed from a text.”

Locatelli, a student at Lycée les Eaux Claires, a boarding school in Grenoble, France, told Live Science that his project did not require any special equipment.

“I only needed to buy saline solution and syringes because VectorBuilder sent me the liquid and ProteoGenix sent me the powder,” he told Live Science.

VectorBuilder is a company that creates viruses that sneak strands of DNA into cells for the purpose of editing genes, and ProteoGenix synthesizes custom DNA strands, among other things. Both companies primarily serve scientists, but their products can be purchased by anyone.

If you see the words Locatelli injected into the body, they don’t look like much.DNA is just a long molecule that can store information. Most of the time it stores information that creatures use to go about their business, but it can be used to store any kind of information that can be written down.

Locatelli’s method of converting words into DNA is straightforward, if a bit crude.DNA encodes information using repeating strings of four nucleotides, which scientists abbreviate as A, G, T, and C. Locatelli lines up each letter of the Hebrew and Arabic alphabets (which correspond closely to each other) with a single nucleotide, so each nucleotide represents more than one of the letters of the alphabet. So, if you write a Hebrew sentence using his scheme, every aleph, vav, yud, nun, tsade, and tav becomes a G, every dalet, khet, ayin, and resh becomes a T, and so on.

So, is this a good idea? locatelli thinks so.

“I did this experiment as a symbol of peace between religion and science,” he says, “and I think it’s good for a religious person to inject himself with his religious texts.”

Locatelli said he did not experience any major health problems following the procedure, although he reported some “mild inflammation” around the injection site in his left thigh that lasted a few days.

This description of only minimal complications is consistent with what UCLA biochemistry professor Sriram Kosuri told Live Science.

“[The injected text] is unlikely to do anything other than possibly cause an allergic reaction. I also don’t know how likely it is that the rAAV vector made the actual virus, given the way he injected it. Honestly, I don’t know enough about the vector he used and how he did it (details are scarce),” he wrote in the message.