Initially the term “Biohacker” can conjure images from a dystopian future science fiction movie where people attach machines to their bodies to enhance our fragile human forms. In realty, that’s not too far from the truth. Take, for instance, the case of Gabriel Licina, who had a night vision serum injected into his eyeballs – and it worked.
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Science for the Masses (SfM)
The California-based group of “biohackers” wanted to test a compound called “Chlorin 6”, or Ce6 for short, which is typically found in the eyes of deep sea fish. Ce6 has even been used to fight cancer of the eye, as described in SfM’s report of the Ce6 test: “The light amplification properties of the Ce6 are used to use the energy from a low power light source to destroy cancerous cells with literal laser precision. The reaction creates oxygen species which induce apoptosis in tumor cells.”
The idea was that if Ce6 could enhance light amplification that well, that it could be used for night vision in humans. Although Ce6 had been tested on animal models, it had never been tested on a healthy human being. As SfM’s lead medical officer told Mic in an interview, “Going off that research, we thought this would be something to move ahead with…After doing the research, you have to take the next step.” That’s when Gabriel Licina became a guinea pig, presumably after losing an office bet of some kind.
Licina’s eyes were thoroughly flushed clean, and held open with a speculum. Tibbetts then used a pipette, which looks suspiciously like a turkey baster, to inject the solution directly into Licina’s eyes. The Ce6, which is actually a powder, was mixed with a saline solution and insulin to help it get to the conjunctival sack of the eye, and eventually to the retina. According to Licina, “To me, it was a quick, greenish-black blur across my vision, and then it dissolved into my eyes.” Then protective contact lenses were put in place to prevent damage to the eyes, and Licina put on sunglasses.
So I guess the main question is, “can you have night vision injected directly into your eyeball?” The answer to that question is “YES”. The first tests involved Licina recognizing hand-sized shapes at 10 meters, but as the solution work its way into his eyes, he was able to recognize shapes at further distances. The research team took 4 control subjects outside in the dark and had them try to pick out people standing near trees and bushes at a distance of 50 meters with a laser pointer. The average success rate was 33%. Licina, with his new “cat eyes” was able to identify the people near the trees and bushes 100% of the time. Even when they stood silhouetted against a tree or bush.
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The next morning Licina’s eyesight returned to normal in the morning, and after 20 days there were no side-effect of the treatment. Although in their report the team at SfM says their results were “subjective”, a 100% success rate is hard to argue with. It’s amazing what the human body is capable of with a little help from science.
Even if it did look a little scary…
Image Credit: Gabriel Licina