A DNA double helix in an undated artist's illustration released by the National Human Genome Research Institute to Reuters (Photo : Reuters)
If you have ever had the impulse to encode your favorite novel, song, or even computer program into a DNA sequence, you're in luck.
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At this time, the fabricated DNA must be kept separate from other cells, or it will be "kicked out" due to its foreign nature. The DNA itself is in the form of a viscous liquid or solid salt and is said to last for centuries. Lead researcher for the experiment, bioengineer Sriram Kosuri, explains that the data "is sequential, like a magnetic tape, where you have to spool through stuff to get at the data."
To add weight to DNA's capability to retain massive amounts of information, Church said that "a device the size of your thumb could store as much information as the whole internet."
Synthetic biologist Drew Endy of Standford University explored the implications of the experiment, stating "It shows that the vast increase in capacity to synthesize and sequence DNA can be applied to store significant amounts of data." Commenting on the uses of this advancement, Endy said, "If you wanted to have your library encoded in DNA, you could probably do that now."
According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2003, genetic engineers created micro-organisms that carry the song "It's a Small World" in their DNA.
Church asserts that "the cost of both synthesis and sequencing [of DNA] are plummeting in an unprecedented way," speaking to the commercial potential of the practice.
The research team has filed for a patent for the experiment, and Church confident that "for some archival problems, this could be the wave of the future."