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🔖 Meet the Anarchists Making Their Own Medicine

For instance, Laufer said that many of the medicines for orphan diseases are made of biological material, such as fungus. … Since biological cells are self-replicating, this would simply require one user to grow a sufficient amount of cells for themselves before shipping some cells to another user who would repeat the process, similar to the way people ‘seed’ a media file on torrent sites.

The question, then, would be how to ship the biological material cheaply and without getting caught. To this end, Four Thieves is investigating the use of books and CD cases as grow media for biological precursors. Mycelia are basically the ‘roots’ of many fungi and feed on cellulose, which is found in abundance in the pages of a book. So Laufer and his collaborators began injecting books with mycelium, which feed upon the pages and grow out of the book. Similarly, compact discs are similar enough to petri dishes that if they’re streaked properly they can be used as a growth medium for bacteria and other biological precursors. The advantage of this is that Four Thieves members using the BioTorrent site could ship these cells using the cheaper “media rate” charged by the US Postal Service for items like books and compact discs while avoiding scrutiny from law enforcement.