Microsoft to buy 10 million strands of lab created DNA to research encoding of digital data on genetic material

Microsoft will purchase 10 million strands of lab-created DNA from biotech company Twist Bioscience. The main aim behind the purchase is to experiment as to how digital data is encoded on genetic material. Storage on genetic material is considered as an experimental field and some research projects have claimed that it can store large quantities of digital data.

Emily M. Leproust, CEO of Twist Bioscience, said that currently the massive amount of digital data is stored in media, which has a limited time of shelf life and required re-encoding on a regular basis. In this situation, DNA is considered to be a promising storage media and has a shelf life of many thousand years.

It can act as a permanent storage format. “Our silicon-based DNA synthesis platform offers unmatched scale and product quality that vastly accelerates the ability to write DNA at a cost enabling data storage. We are thrilled to work with Microsoft, and University of Washington researchers, to address the growing challenge of digital data storage”, mentioned Emily M. Leproust, CEO of Twist Bioscience.

After every two years, the digital data storage requirement is getting doubled. Therefore, researchers think that DNA can act as a new generic file system for all the information. Doug Carmean, of Microsoft’s Technology and Research organization, said that as digital data is expanding, there is a need for new methods to have long-term, secure data storage.

Carmean said that they have carried out tests in which it has been found that they can encode and recover 100% of the digital data from synthetic DNA. But Carmean also agreed that it will take time to come up with a commercially-viable product.

It is not going to happen soon that you would be able to replace external hard drives with DNA storage as the scientists continue to be in conceptual phases. But the concept holds promise in the future.

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