Scientists stored DNA information into a plastic “toy”

Posted by beauty33 on December 27th, 2019

Scientists infused genetic material into a "rabbit" that is made using 3D printing technology. It remarks the first step towards a possible era of "DNA items." In the age of "DNA items," biotechnology will make electronics smarter.

Yaniv Erlich, who works at the Israeli gene sequencing company MyHeritage, has carried a small white plastic rabbit with him wherever he went in the past 9 months. Although the rabbit is cute, it is not a toy.

When the foot is cut off, the magic of this little rabbit will be revealed. With the genetic material at the cut, anyone can make more rabbits exactly the same-of course, a DNA sequencer and a 3D printer is needed.

What is going on? it's actually really easy. DNA is a storage medium for genetic information in nature, and it is a biological macromolecule with a double helix structure. But DNA is also an encoding, which means we can use it to store other information.

Several companies are developing DNA data storage technologies. But no company has taken advantage of its small size and high density of information storage to "weave" it into the structure of everyday objects. Erich said that integrating DNA into objects will form "DNA objects." The intelligence of the objects will not only come from their ability to communicate with each other through radio waves, but also from the information injected into the objects.

This is why Elich made this rabbit.

The plastic rabbit was made using 3D printing technology in the laboratory of Erich ’s collaborator Robert Grass, Zurich's Federal Institute of Technology, and has trillions of tiny glass beads embedded in his body. Each glass bead contains dozens of synthetic DNA molecules.

3D printing technology can be traced back to the spring of 1993, when a postdoctoral staff member of Stanford University's graphics laboratory went out to shop to bring back a rabbit made of clay. Using a laboratory laser scanner and fairly original image stitching software, he generated a computerized version of the clay rabbit. This graphic file, called the "Stanford University Rabbit," was one of the first digital representations of 3D objects.

DNA sequencing

However, DNA is a very fragile molecule. High temperature, large changes in acidity and alkalinity, and ultraviolet light will cause its performance to decline and destroy the encoded information. For any idea that uses DNA to store data, preserving its chemical structure is the key.

Erich discussed his thoughts with Grass via email. Grasse pioneered a way to encapsulate DNA molecules into miniature protective glass envelopes. In 2013, Grasse designed a process for generating positively-charged silica particles, which allowed them to bind tightly to negatively-charged DNA. Silica particles can form a thin film that protects DNA molecules from many threats.

CD Genomics was established in 2004, the company aims at providing the research community with high quality Next Generation Sequencing, PacBio SMRT sequencing, and microarray services. Due to the demand for our services has being increased; CD Genomics has already updated its technology platform to mainstream NGS and microarray instruments. At present, the company’s senior bioinformaticians have ever viewed more than ten thousands of trace files and accumulated abundant experience with its Illumina HiSeq 2500, HiSeq 4000, Miseq Benchtop Sequencer, PacBio Sequel, PacBio RS II, Ion Torrent PGM, and ABI 3730/3730XL analyzer, etc


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