Scientists from the University of Texas at Austin have managed to encode the entirety of The Wizard Of Oz novel into a double strand of DNA – although you’ll need to be able to understand Esperanto to read it.
A story inside a strand of DNA sounds like an undercooked narrative device from an Assassin’s Creed game, but scientists are showing the data-holding capabilities of biomolecules.
Scientists have managed to encode an entire novel into a double strand of DNA in the most efficient way ever, and this may further the practice of DNA storage significantly.
The team at the University of Texas at Austin showcased the efficient storage of data in DNA by embedding The Wizard of Oz in Esperanto, a language designed to be read with ease, into a double strand of DNA. While some will struggle to read the content of the DNA, this breakthrough coincides with big tech companies attempting to leverage the storage capabilities of the biomolecule.
The likes of Microsoft have been investigating biomolecular storage because it allows more storage per volume than a hard drive. However, there have frequently been errors in DNA storage as it can be easily damaged, which can lead to all the information becoming unusable. This is where this breakthrough differs.
In a press release, molecular biologist Ilya Finkelstein discussed the study:
The key breakthrough is an encoding algorithm that allows accurate retrieval of the information even when the DNA strands are partially damaged during storage.
On top of this resilience, the DNA storage achieved in this instance does not require repeated embeds. Instead, ‘each piece of information reinforces other pieces of information’. This is a significant step forward for DNA storage, and it may lead to larger projects being undertaken now that the process is less error-prone.
It seems scientists may be on the yellow brick road for DNA storage, let’s just hope the final destination doesn’t have too many surprises.
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