Moscow | With his scalpel, Vladislav Zaïtsev makes an incision between the index finger and the thumb of the patient and sliding in a small cylinder glass: a chip under the skin, which would enable its owner to open the door of his office.
“I had decided to do it a long time ago “, smiled the patient, Alexey Raoutkine, programmer, computer, 24 years of age. “It is practical and it is somewhat unique: nobody else has it,” he says.
Vladislav Zaïtsev and Alexei Raoutkine are part of these Russian followers of the “biohacking” movement, party of the Silicon Valley which is to “improve” the human body, including fireworks.
Some will implement the technology to make life easier, others impose on their body a comprehensive control in the hope of living longer and some are trying the gene therapy.
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Programmer of 28 years, Vladislav Zaïtsev has learned self-taught, after studying medicine failed, to implanting microchips in the human body.
It has captured international attention in 2015 when it is implanted chip of his passes for the Moscow metro. To do this, he had to dissolve the card in acetone to retrieve the chip that it was covered in silicone before inserting it to the back of his hand, all filmed and broadcast on YouTube.
The disc, a little smaller than a coin of five centimes of euros, is still visible but more as a function: Zaïtsev has been reprogrammed with details of his bank card. To amuse his friends, he is also implanted magnets under the fingertips.
“I like things that have a real impact, as with the implant of chips,” says the young man is estimated at a thousand the number of Russians with such artifice.
Most have a subcutaneous version of their access card at the office, some have implemented a compass that vibrates when they turn to the North. “I like the idea of expanding the capabilities of the human body,” continues Mr. Zaïtsev.
Elsewhere in the world, and even if some are concerned about the risks of surveillance and hacking, the chips are set to start cars, turn on phones, computers or printers, monitor its temperature, to store medical information. Of professional magicians use them for their numbers.
Some chips have been approved for human use but those that Mr. Zaïtsev uses are originally intended for veterinarians: made in Taiwan, they are ordered on the internet for the price of 500 rubles ($8).
In his small apartment, he is to pay 2 000 rubles (€28) the implant of a chip slightly larger than a grain of rice. He claims to have about fifty projects to his credit. “The typical customer is a geek. Most are men aged 35 years or less “, he adds.
Others are aimed more that the implant is a simple gadget. For Stanislav Skakoun, the objective is to prolong its life, potentially to infinity: this is transhumanism, which advocates and provides for the emergence of a hyper-human, quasi-immortal.
“I have not yet found chip useful for prolonging life,” says this contractor 36-year-old. Instead, he regularly visits a private clinic to fill his blood twenty test tubes for many analyses, the results of which will dictate their lifestyle.
These visits are a part of the routine very specific to which he is committed for five years. The human measurement of hundreds of biochemical markers, and consumes a daily amount of vitamins and supplements.
If he refuses to reveal the details of his plan, Stanislav Skakoun ensure that its supplements include iodine, vitamin D, magnesium and probiotics.
It also increases the genetic analyses to identify any significant risk factor hereditary, evaluate her cholesterol and her blood glucose, her bone density or the level of stress hormone (cortisol).
“Over the past five years, my biological age has not changed at all “, wants to believe this man sharpened to the piercing blue eyes that said that he hoped to live long enough to see the scientific progress to extend significantly the life expectancy.
“If we overcome the cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease, we have overcome almost all causes of mortality “, he says.
A key idea of the advocates of transhumanism, the image of the controversial gerontologist british Aubrey de Grey, which ensures that humans will soon die of violent deaths. Still, the historical record for known longevity is 122 years.
In this quest of eternal life, some biohackers have set their sights on gene therapy, one of the most promising medical research currently.
The biohacker american Josiah Zayner had caused a sensation by 2017, providing live coverage of an attempt to modify its genome through molecular scissors Crispr.
This revolutionary tool, invented in 2012 simplifies the techniques of modification of DNA. It has been used successfully to treat a genetic disease of the blood, sickle-cell disease.
But the medical authorities and the u.s. Food and Drug Administration warned against the use of scissors, kits, DiY (to yourself) be made available to the public.
They cut often to the side of the targeted gene, causing mutations and unexpected, “says Kiran Musunuru, a professor of genetics at the University of Pennsylvania:” It is very easy to do if you do not care about the consequences, ” he said.
On the merits, the biohackers are no doubt right to say that aging can theoretically be slowed down or even halted, ahead of the Russian biologist Maxim Skoulatchev, an expert on longevity at the Moscow State University.
“We believe that aging is, in one way or another, as a program in our genome,” said the researcher, and ” the only way to combat aging is to break down this program, the hack in any way “, he adds.
In this way, the age-related disease and cancer could be fought, ” adds the scientist, according to which live up to 100 years can become the norm. But it also predicts that older people will develop health problems is still unknown.
The problem with the biohackers, it is that they want to go “too fast”, adds Maxim Skoulatchev which the team tries to find a medication that can act on the process of genetic aging.
“For the moment, there is no technology to break this program and from this point of view, ( … ), the biohackers are in the wishful thinking. ”
“Optimize yourself “
Case of dreams and dollars also. In its start-up is Able, Stanislav Skakoun offers medical testing to 150 000 roubles (2 140 euros) a complete balance sheet. Its customers are mainly executives and businessmen.
Some among the wealthy pay up to 250 000 rubles per year access to a sports club from moscow which was nicknamed ” the laboratory of biohacking “.
The room, which opened last year with the slogan “Optimize thyself” is on the 58th floor of a skyscraper in the ” Moskva-City “, the business district of the Russian capital. The members are the “owners of companies or executives,” says its founder, Artyom Vassiliev.
The 29-year old man launched into the science of the sport after a high level career as an athlete. Behind him, on a treadmill, a member of the club puts on a mask that will analyse the air exhaled.
A few minutes later, the tool shows him when his training was the most effective. And then it will go in a room cooled to the liquid nitrogen, which helps the recovery.
Despite his enthusiasm, Artyom Vassiliev doubt, however, that it will live for several hundred years: “I’m more in the idea that you can live 100, 115, or 120 years, but live a good way “.