Making DNA turns out to be easy if you have the right hardware. The critical piece of gear is a DNA synthesizer. Brent already has one, a yellowing plastic machine the size of an office printer, called an ABI 394. “So, what kind of authorization do I need to buy this equipment?” I ask.
“I suggest you start by typing ‘used DNA synthesizer’ into Google,” Brent says.
I hit eBay first, where ABI 394s go for about $5,000. Anything I can’t score at an auction is available for a small markup at sites like usedlabequip.com. Two days later I have a total: $29,700—taxes and shipping not included. Nucleosides (the A, C, T, G genetic building blocks) and other chemicals for the synthesizer cost more than the hardware—in the end, a single base pair of DNA runs about a buck to make. Enough raw material to build, say, the smallpox genome would take just over $200,000.
Thats right over EBAY and online purchasing sites you can build elements of the smallpox genome.
Are we having fun yet?