Synthetic DNA: storing big data

Synthetic DNA: storing big data

Biomemory Labs is developing DNA Drive technology, which will allow (unlimited) data to be stored in DNA molecules

We are at the dawn of the era of big data. Digital information is growing at an almost exponential rate year after year – something that will inevitably continue to happen over the coming decades. It is a fact that humans generate new information faster than it can be stored efficiently.

It is also true that storage media are being developed that can provide increased capacity and persistence, but currently the life of such media (optical, magnetic tape, hard disk or flash memory) is about 7 years, which is not enough for certain areas where there is information that must be stored for long periods of time for compliance reasons, or simply because data may be important in the future.

This includes archived data, and it probably won’t be used again, but needs to be saved somewhere. It is estimated that this information represents 70 percent of the total information generated, which is called WORN information (write once read never).

Magnetic tape drives are usually the medium used: they are inexpensive and a lot of information can be stored on them. But access to this data is sequential and very slow compared to other media.

In addition, all this information must be repeated from time to time and kept at a constant temperature and humidity, which is a significant cost for enterprises.

DNA engine

The digital transformation we are going through requires a revolution in storage and the French company Biomemory is working on a project that could lead to such a revolution.

And we must remember that there is a type of storage technology that was not developed by man, but evolved 4 billion years ago: DNA.

come this Vital Memory Labs (a branch of France’s Sorbonne University set up last year), which is developing technology that has the potential to replace traditional storage media while reducing its high energy consumption. This technology is able to encode and organize data in double-stranded DNA molecules, that is, it is able to synthetically copy DNA in such a way that it can store any type of information.

This is DNA Drive technology, which the company defines as a bio-secure, biocompatible DNA data storage strategy with unlimited capacity.

The stability of DNA is superior to that of any other medium by landslide. This is evidenced by the careful retrieval of DNA from a mammoth that lived a million years ago, for example.

Its density is amazing too.

According to Biomemory, 4.5 x 10 is raised to 20 bytes per gram of DNA, i.e. 0.45 zettabytes can be stored in one gram of DNA.

All digital data created by humanity in 2019 (45 zettabytes) can be stored in 100 grams of DNA.

Moreover, stored DNA does not require energy because the molecules are quite stable under the right conditions.

Significant advances in data encoding in synthetic DNA sequences “in-lab” were already demonstrated by a series of algorithms in 2012, but there were several limitations such as low storage density or slowness in writing or reading information.

Biomemory’s approach to overcoming these limitations in storing information in DNA relies on the use of biological processes and characteristics of organisms.

DNA Drive uses double-stranded DNA molecules as a physical vector, compatible with in vitro and in vivo manipulations.

Pierre Crozet, chief technology officer and co-founder of Biomemory Labs, meets with reporters at an IT Press Tour event. In his right hand is the capsule in which synthetic DNA is stored, which we explain below

“Once such molecules are built, they can be introduced into living organisms for further manipulation. Our technology enables multi-scale physical organization that enables random access, facilitates assembly after sequencing and provides unlimited capacity,” Biomemory directors noted during the recent IT press tour (press event Silicon Spain had the opportunity to learn about this technology in detail).

data encoding

Without going into too many technical details (this author has limited knowledge of biology), Biomemory has developed an algorithm called RISE (Random In-Silico Evolution), capable of encoding and synthesizing information from the binary (0/1) state to the quaternary (A/C/ G/T) characteristic of the nucleotide sequence to ensure compatibility with DNA.

The DNA engine structure is made up of storage units called segments. Each sector consists of a data block of adjustable length in which information is stored.

Dynamic memory has modules already running. In fact, it demonstrated its capabilities by encoding historical texts based on the French Revolution: “Manifesto of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” (1789) and “Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizenship” (Olympes de Gouges, 1791).

Both are assembled and stored in metal capsules called DNAshell (pictured), which will ensure their stability for hundreds of years and readability with 100% accuracy.

Biomemory Labs DNA Drive
DNA engine and DNAshell capsule

Biomemory acknowledges that there is still a long way to go, especially when it comes to encoding and storing information. It is still a very slow process that needs to be developed to one day be viable as a product. But he also points out that something very similar happened in the 1960s with traditional computing where no one bet that it would develop into what it is today.

Will the DNA Engine become the next big (and standard) revolution in big data storage? We’ll see in a few years.

original article over here.

Translator with www.DeepL.com/Translator (Free version)

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