6# Sean’s new medical book, his Role at a Genetic Diagnostic Startup and the Democratization of BioHacking

Sean and I in Atlanta

Check out Sean’s Instagram page:

Transcript:

Bar: Hello and welcome to the GolgiRadio today with me is Sean from @chemical_reacsean.

Sean: That’s right, yes.

Bar: From Instagram. Hello, Sean. we’ve talked a little bit before this podcast about, Sean’s new book, and, about biohacking. So, let’s start with the book.

Tell us a little bit about the theme of the book. The general idea.

Sean: Yeah. So, I have embarked on a long journey. It seems like writing a book about the relationship between, THC or CBD and our DNA and how our different mutations and each of us might make THC. CBD, a great medicine or a potential problem.

and so my book is trying to both explain what, teaching CBD to do in our body and how it plays a role in the endocannabinoid system, which is a beast of a system. And then also explain, how DNA, works at a more nutritional and functional level for people.

Bar: Yeah. It was hard to boil down all the scientific pathway in a way that will be more accessible to the general public because with the limited amount of knowledge, and we all have some knowledge about the endocannabinoid system, not so much in a clinical studies as a referring to the podcast with dr Raphael Meshulam, but.

How you make that, all what we already know, easy to understand, but not a compromise. The scientific side of that seems very hard. How would you approach that?

Sean: Yes, that’s exactly, that’s the largest problem I have had and I’ve been battling with, it, the whole project itself started from a potential video.

One minute video I tried to make for my Instagram and I quit. Quickly discovered that, as you said, if you make it too simple, you compromise, the actual information that you’re trying to educate people with. And so I’ve been trying, the way I’ve been writing the book is sort of focused around two different readers.

you can either be a reader about college-educated, but it doesn’t have to be specialized in biology. and be able to understand the analogies that I write in the. Book, so that you understand the topic in general and how these plant products might help you or might not. and then for, if you are more educated, within the realm of biology, biochemistry, and biotechnology, you can read other parts of the book that will specialize in breaking down that the more hardcore science and our, our scientific understanding of the

System and how it plays with our Genomix.

Bar: Yeah. in the book, you stated that

the endocannabinoid system, a somewhat of a speaker or microphone that the,

Sean: you could tweak

Bar: the noise. So what do you mean exactly by noise?

Sean: So, basically the cannabinoid system. , I refer to it as kind of a volume dial, for a speaker.

, if in your brain, say the center that controls your fear response, the amygdala, if you were to receive a signal from, say, a breaking branch while you’re out in the woods, just sitting by a fire if you were to hear a breaking branch and you were. To respond to that sounds like there was a predator behind you every single time.

Over time, you would end up extremely exhausted from running away or from trying to fight. what the endocannabinoid system seems to do is, establish this volume setting so that when a signal like a breaking of the branch, happens, and you receive that in the center and your brain gets. The signal is it needs to hit a certain volume in order for you to respond.

 , like there is a predator. Otherwise, you’re just going to turn your head, see that it’s nothing and go about the rest of your day. And that’s sort of been the evolutionary benefit for this system in your brain is, is giving you the ability to not overreact to every signal that you get.

Bar: And it’s very important because.

Lack of sleep and high levels of cortisol and stress cure to have a severe fact on potential individual survival.

Sean: Yes, and that’s exactly right. , we’ve, we’re starting to see that now with, these huge genomic studies that we have going on studies and whatnot that look into particular mutations, that lead to

these particular mutations that lead to things like depression or schizophrenia or anxiety, and they find their roots in some proteins that have to do with the endocannabinoid system. , and so those could potentially be therapeutic targets, or, they could be, if, if knowing you have these mutations, you might make different choices in your life.

You might consume. Or CBD, where you might stay away from them, they might benefit you to be less anxious or more anxious. 

Bar: Yeah. some old stations might have, a bad fact on a particular individual. And if we would know how to, identify those individuals, we could say, Oh, those individuals should absent from or those might have a benefit from it.

This is related to, our next topic that, Sean has a project. He’s a part of a company that uses the Snipes method to analyze and gene mutations. Tell us more about that.

Sean: Yeah. So, , so I’m part of a project called butterfly genomics and, we’re developing. A tool that will look at patients, single nucleotide polymorphisms, which are the single base-pair mutations.

Whether you have a protein or a DNA sequence that encodes for a protein, and somewhere in that DNA sequence. You might have an a, where there should be a G and that could mean nothing. Or it could mean something pretty significant. In some cases, you have times where it could be the reason you have, anxiety.

Or it might be the reason you might develop Alzheimer’s one day. Some of these snips or single nucleotide polymorphisms are incredibly powerful. And so, being able to address, developing a tool that I. Identifies these people with these snips or these mutations could be a potentially better quality of life for these patients.

Bar: Yeah. He mentioned before you go to a pharmacy, that hands you cannabis products. It sends your DNA test for a particular gene that uses this particular method of snips analyzing and gives you a heads up what you should expect. And, you’re going to launch, this coming spring. So what is, your market target, Walter, you’re planning for the future of this company?

Sean: So, the company is, a lot of other companies like this have already popped up. And most of them aim at, consumer markets, and, and generally they aim at any consumer. and at the butterfly, we don’t think that that’s. The best route. A lot of this information is very complicated and it requires a background of understanding.

And so we are focusing on practitioners, whether that’s your doctor or your, even chiropractors would be able to use this, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, MDs and dos of course. And so, it would be a clinical tool to allow, these practitioners to have a better sense, and, of your, as a patient of your potential, whether it means eating certain foods or taking certain, substances, they would have a better understanding of you personally compared to everyone else that they see.

Bar: It’s also important to understand the genetics is extremely. Complicated and just because of one mutation on one particular gene for one particular protein or an intron that could be a part of,

variety off. , it would be very difficult to point a finger exactly on, how a certain mutation will effect, on, in vitro environment.

And, one of the things he’s with the ancestry,

companies that use these methods Snapes they sell information to other research institutes. , so you’d give your DNA, you swipe it, you get the data to analyze it, but they’re, most of their profit is from creating these huge databases of correlating to your race and age and, sex.

How is your company is going to deal with this issue?

Sean: Yes. Yeah. Privacy is something we do take very seriously. , I’ve, so as part of my job in leading this project, it’s been trying to figure out where to source, DNA tests from. And so I’ve been through, well, we have two options as a company, one that we use or are planning to use at launch.

Are we do use the information from ancestry or 23andme. It’s the information that you get yourself, and you permit us to use it, but we don’t store any of your data. In fact, the reports that we make for the clients, are deleted after 60 days. Or for now, it’s 60 days. We might change that period depending on the scale of the company, but that is to protect the patient’s information and to uphold.

HIPAA regulations as well. And then the other part of, sourcing DNA tests is potentially creating our own DNA test. Essentially the way this research is done is that there are these chips, these micro-ray chips that you put DNA on and they reflect, which genes that you have or don’t have.

and you, you can go to a company called Illumina and have these chips. Specifically for you. They look at mutations that you specifically want to look at, and that is the goal of our company. however, it’s a very expensive process to do and to find a lab that will do that for you. You want to make sure that the DNA information that the lab gets isn’t owned by the lab.

I’ve been through several companies who, when I ask what happens to the, to my patient’s information. And when I give them the DNA, who does it? Who owns it, who gets to keep it? They simply just don’t answer my emails. And the companies that ignore me, we don’t work with them again. So it’s something I’m going into the future that we are trying to navigate around and find those companies that are reputable and, and safe to use so that it’s a large concern and we’re looking forward to the way privacy is managed in the future.

And hopefully. There are better options out there.

Bar: Yeah. it’s also such a complicated topic. And, you told me earlier that you had that a very difficult time finding the right poker murders who would have the scientific understanding and, the programming performance options to make an interface, which will be easy to use for your average person.

 Sean: Yeah, it’s very difficult to find a team that can work on a project like this. It does require, a pretty strong understanding of the science to really, create the logic systems and the algorithms that look at genes and, and make decisions based on genetic reports. So, it took me a while to find the guys that I’m working with now.

 , but they’ve been a great team, and the best quality I found in them was that they were. Extremely curious about learning about this and developing a product that can help so many people in this way. And so they’re doing a great job in making a system that is easy to use and easy to understand. , and I’m excited to share it with the world.

Bar: let’s move on to biohacking. It seems people who are trying modifying their buddies becoming not, widely, common. Nevertheless, it’s gaining somewhat of contention. , what do you think are the dangers or benefits to, to raise from bio hockey?

Sean: Yeah. The biohacking scene has been growing and, you know, like you said there, there are pros and cons of the scene. , I do agree with it. Democratizing this sort of technology to an extent. , but then, the first con is just something going wrong with, you know, a group of people who want to modify themselves or convince others to modify themselves and, and leading to some, you know, unrepairable or irreparable damages, to the, to their bodies or their clients or patients.

It could be terrible. , at best case, a lot of these bio-hackers don’t know what they’re doing at all. And the, you know, there’s simply just injecting foreign proteins into their bloodstream and hoping that there is an allergic reaction. , that’s the best-case scenario. And the worst-case scenario is some people are, are tampering with some things that they probably don’t fully understand, and, and aren’t taking the time to, to understand it.

And they’re also not taking the resources. I understand it. I mean, there’s a lot of reasons why clinical trials take time. And one of those is that we take a lot of people, and you need a lot of data points to make conclusions. You can’t just say you’ve cured lactose intolerance, using one person.

Bar: Yeah. And it’s important also to start with the young fit individuals, then moving to different classifications of individuals that might have a disease. And there are lots of regulations and you start first with smaller group sizes and slight to increase it to the thousands for the last stages of research.

and, the problem, I see that those materials are so accessible. You could just open a car. Penny, you don’t need the need, the headquarters, or you’re in the office. You just need to pay taxes, even if you don’t have revenue or you just need to make it the official company. And he could order any kind of antibiotic resistance and plus maids human genes and work with that.

And the situation, the incident that occurred in China or a professor or a genetically modified germs line off individuals. And the problem is that’s a, he might be some kind of inspiration to other people because he didn’t do it with the knowledge of the university.

Sean: So they say,

Bar: so they say,

Sean: yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s, it’s definitely, I’m very, I’m concerned with potential runaway projects if you will. , as you said, it doesn’t take much to be able to order a lot of these, resources, some of which could be bacteria that when you buy them or not a viral land, but you could engineer something to be a real problem.

, and I. Feel safe knowing that some people could be in their garage, you know, tinkering away at this without any sort of supervision. So, I do like the idea of, like I said, democratizing the technology a bit more so that it’s, you know, not just held by the big pharmaceutical companies or big biotech companies.

Bar: Or do you mean by democratizing how, what kind of fruit relation should be,

Sean: Yeah. Yeah, it would, it would be more of a, an oversight system, that allows for startups to happen. , but you know, there would be more licensing and regulation that would oversee it and prevent some of these runaway projects.

You would probably need to, submit grant proposals so that just the scientific community, in general, knows who’s doing whatnot. So that online someone makes a post saying, Oh guys, guess what? I cured, you know, diabetes. And not carrying it and it is a problem and, runaway information going around misinformation, scamming people.

Yeah. That’s another thing I’m terrified about is because it’s so easy to influence someone to think, Oh yeah, all these forms will come. These want to kill you or whatever. So come to me, I’ll make you a cure. Just for you, and you know, it’s nothing but sugar water and it’s probably gonna kill you faster.

So

Bar: hopefully if it was just sugar water, I would be like the placebo effect, that even if you take placebo knowingly, it still has some effects. , but some people are playing with very toxic material because of DNA isolation and trans factions, all of those kinds of things. Experiments require, and knowledge.

And, so you need safety. You need the right lab. You can’t just temper. We those. And the problem is that these biohazard crudes to leaked from your Petri-dish to the air. And from there spread worldwide.

Sean: And not to mention, whether or not these garage labs are disposing of these hazardous biohazard materials correctly, to begin with.

Like, you can’t just throw a lot of this stuff in here, you know, everyday garbage can.

Bar: Even if autoclave, there are still some chemicals that, some things that might not autoclave the right way, how can you supervise people doing that?

Sean: Yeah, yeah. It’s, it’s a problem. I think I think what should happen is just more oversight there.

If the same way now that pharmaceutical companies have an accelerated path to drug development, I think you could put together a regulatory system that allows startups, you know, genetic startups to pop up biotech startups to pop up faster. , but just having. More communication between the regulatory departments that should be in charge of this stuff.

Bar: Yeah. For instance, if there was one of those maker space ma, lab and open lab supervised by the government or star tropes or individual’s crude experiments on there, someone’s supervision. , that seems like a yes, a reasonable,

Sean: I think that would be great. I mean, you know, living here near Atlanta, I could imagine, I mean, the CDC is here.

I could imagine some sort of government, group or even it could even be privately funded as long as there is regulatory action or regulatory supervision of the facility. , that allowed for, you know, safe disposal of all the materials and proper, protocol adherence. , then, that would be a much, more comfortable situation that we have instead of a lot of these garage labs that are starting to pop up, across the internet.

Bar: Well, that seems like a good point to finish the podcast. Thank you, Sean. Thank you. links to Sean’s projects and Instagram down below.

Sean: Yeah. , thank you for having me. This was great talking to you.