Do you remember Shrinky Dinks? Chances are, if you're around my age or have a child around my age, you do. We loved them when I was a kid; we had the kits, of course, not the newfangled Shrinky Dinks for ink jet printers and other fancy stuff.
Little would I have ever thought that I'd run across Shrinky Dinks again, outside of crafts with my niece. But Michelle Kkine and her students, of University of California, Merced, have continued with their DIY biotech projects, using their imagination and the toy isle to use Shrinky Dinks to create tiny rubber plates of cell wells that can nestle embryoid bodies and allow for rapid growth medium change with minimum hassle. So it's cheap, it's fast, it's easier than before - it's kind of hard to find a downside. They published their results in Journal of Visualized Experiments, which gives you a detailed video how-to, as well as written protocols for reproducung the stem cell growth yourself. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to get that particular video embedded in our site, but it's definitely worth the click-through to watch if you find this sort of thing interesting.
And of course, we have to consider the ethical implications of this. First and foremost is the simple fact that the DIY Biotech movement is growing, and will continue to grow, and become easier for the home enthusiast to pursue and do outside of a laboratory (especially with video guides), and then the more abstract concept of video documentation in general. Given the scandals that continue to rock the biotech world, including the latest from South Korea, I wonder what kind of result it would have to require video documentation as part of any journal submission.
It's interesting - I think most people are going to be more panicked by the idea of people culturing mediums in their bathroom. In a lot of ways, it's the start of the ultimate doomsday scenario. Me, I find the idea of using technology to enforce research integrity much, much more interesting.