Citizen scientists, you can now DIY your own DNA analysis with Bento Lab

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Want to know if you have the “athlete gene” or if you’re actually related to the weirdos who claim you as a family member? Get your collection tubes ready, citizen scientists, Bento Lab’s DIY DNA analysis kit is here and ready for the in-home lab.

Normally you’d order a kit somewhere like 23andMe, spit in a tube and mail it off for results in six to eight weeks. However, the London-based Bento Lab claims to be the first DIY DNA lab you can use to test anywhere. It’s small enough to fit in a backpack and can analyze DNA from saliva, hair, animal tissue and even beer or wine.

How it works:

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You collect a sample and place into the centrifuge in the middle of the product for DNA extraction. A PCR machine on the right-hand side then copies the genes and a gel unit allows you to then visualize the DNA.

The type of equipment needed is usually very expensive and requires DNA experts to run the various machines, but the Bento Lab is roughly the cost of a PC at $793 USD — affordable enough to test a variety of products that could cost hundreds of thousands to farm out to a lab service.

Bento Lab is on Kickstarter and has already more than doubled its crowdfunding goal, with 22 days to go, and the team behind it has support from the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering, Makerversity, Imperial College SynbiCITE and UCL Advances.

The lab includes the Bento Lab kit, as well as pipettes, reagents, cotton swabs for collection, an instruction booklet and a connected community. Bento Lab also mentioned creating an app to connect citizen scientists and allow the sharing of research and discoveries in the future.

Some of the suggested experiments you can run on Bento Lab include:

  • Test a hamburger to see if it contains horse meat
  • Identify genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • Find out if your taste buds detect bitter flavors by testing your variation of the PTC gene
  • Check if you are built for endurance by testing your variation of the “athlete” gene ACTN3
  • Explore how blood group genotyping works
  • Identify poisonous and non-poisonous types of mushrooms
  • Typify the genetic code of your homemade beer

The personalized lab has already been used in beta testing all across the world. Find out a bit more about this cool DIY genetics lab by watching the video below: