Twist Bioscience, the world’s biggest supplier of artificial genes and manufactured DNA strings, established five years ago approximately believes that it could be a great achievement if data could be stored in genes but it’s expensive. Emily Leproust is the CEO of this company.
Emily showed us a small capsule and told us its storage capacity equals to whole Facebook data server at her office located in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. Synthetic biology basically depends on the idea of genes made on custom-order also this idea involves in the preparation of all biotech food, drug and fragrance begin with it. The capsule consist of DNA probably shows a vast new market of DNA made storage gadgets.
Leproust spoke in a dominant voice, showing her native France accent that in “we are the master in DNA creating and we want to hold the leadership”.
We went in a production room with Leproust. There was a DNA synthesizer named Applied Biosystems Model 394 and she told us it could produce four short strands per day and now today, Twist is making three million strands per day.
We see Twist’s technology covered in glass and placed in a corner, it looks like an ink-jet printer assembled with a postcard-size chip of black silicon directed by open circuit boards and ends.The machine mechanism involves the compressing the droplets of cytosine, thymine, adenine, and guanine into 9600 nano-wells. Each well has a width of a string of hair. The elements cytosine, thymine, adenine, and guanine are also known as C, T, A, and G of DNA.
The selling price of each DNA letter is seven to nine cents. In making DNA manufacturing low cost, twist plays a vital role. So we are grateful to this machine.
Leproust has done Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Texas and after her degree, she joined a company named Agilent Technologies. Later on, this company blamed her for stealing the technology on which twist made. But her lawyers defend her by saying that the claim has no value. It’s just an effort to spoil and lessen her prosperity.
Our company is like Intel as we sell genetics that is same as a transistor that can be used in innovative and useful machines said by CEO of the company. I ask my customers, ‘Do you have more ideas or more money?’ she says. “When we lower our price, they don’t save the difference. They buy more DNA.”
Last year in October, the greatest contract has been signed by Twist. They supplied 1,000,000,000 base sets of manufactured DNA to Boston bio-foundry Ginkgo Bioworks. So it shows that low cost of manufactured DNA led to greater achievements.
For finding new enzymes, Ginkgo bio works combines bacteria or yeast to twist’s genes. Scientists believe that Creation of whole genomes including human can be possible if DNA costs lower.
Industry experts say that a challenging place in the market has been created with the help of discoveries done by Twist. In which there is inverse variation as the DNA cost is decreasing and the demand for DNA is increasing. Gen9, synthetic-DNA Company based in Cambridge signed a big supply contract but after six months this company had to sell off. So after this incident in January 2017, the Tough economics declared Twist as their favorite.
Flagship pioneering‘s partner, David Berry said that people still can’t understand what is the purpose of these tools.
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Data storage in DNA.
That is the point where per year data storage will be $30billion. It is predicted by IDC research group that till 2025, 163 zettabytes of computerized information will be made by the world so it’s a big threat to iPhones memory as 1.2 trillion iPhones will get “full memory” warnings.
So it might be possible to encode the data in DNA and change each bit into genes in an order so data can be retrieved easily rather than collecting it on typical magnetic tapes.
DNA is amazingly thick and dense so it can act as a great data storage medium. The conference room where Leproust showed us the silver capsule could take in all the present data of the world apparently. A computer scientist Luis Ceze works at the University of Washington said that nothing is better than this for long time storage of collected data.
Microsoft research got 20 million DNA strands by Twist that are custom-coded after 2016. Now for making a business of DNA data storage, they are working with Ceze. Songs, music videos and some files like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has encoded by the team a while ago.
12 megabytes of data can be stored in DNA for only $100000. It would not remain the same, after few years it will be 10 cents rather than $100000. It is said by Leproust but DNA should lower its cost.
The interview was conducted by MIT Technology Review.
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