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ARM Innovation Hub
30 September, 2021 - 13:04 By Tony Quested

Evonetix granted patent for DNA data storage and retrieval method

Cambridge-based synthetic biology gamechanger Evonetix has been granted a key patent for its novel method for DNA data storage and retrieval.

The company, a runner-up in the Disruptive Technology category in this year’s Business Weekly Awards, is developing a desktop platform for scalable, high-fidelity and rapid gene synthesis.

DNA has significant potential as a long-term data storage media due to the information density that it can achieve in comparison with tape-based storage. However, the use of DNA as a storage medium is hampered by complexities associated with its writing, storage, access and reading. These challenges create difficulty and costs that negate the benefits offered in storage density.

Evonetix’s approach enables non-destructive data retrieval from its chip surfaces, overcoming one of the major challenges of using DNA for data storage.

Evonetix’s novel, DNA-on-chip platform uses tens of thousands of individually controlled ‘virtual wells’ to enable either de-novo DNA synthesis or immobilisation of pre-synthesised DNA for storage in-situ until data retrieval is required.

Individual sequences can then be read through thermal cycling of individual virtual wells, first to melt DNA stored there and then to enable polymerase-based amplification of the single stranded DNA remaining on the site.

Each virtual well can retain tens of millions of DNA strands, with sub-populations individually ‘read‘ through use of different amplification primers. 

Amplified DNA is released into solution for collection and downstream sequencing while a final primer extension step restores the DNA to its original double stranded format for ongoing storage. In this way, Evonetix enables high density storage with a simple, non-destructive, read method.

Dr Matt Hayes, CTO at Evonetix, said: “With DNA data storage forecast to grow rapidly in the next decade, and an increasing move towards digitisation, this patent is a major milestone for Evonetix.”

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