DNA storage is the process of encoding binary data into synthetic, human-made strands of DNA. The binary digits are converted from 1s and 0s into the letters A, C, G, and T to store a binary digital file in DNA. The letters A, C, G, and T, represent the four unique nucleotides that makeup DNA, namely adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. The physical storage medium is a synthesized chain of DNA where the As, Cs, Gs, and Ts are in a sequence. Cs, Gs, and Ts are decoded back into the original digital sequence to recover the data.
DNA storage offers many advantages, especially in terms of storage, which is boosting its rapid growth. DNA’s information storage density is several orders of magnitude higher than any other known storage technology. Flash memory stores 1 bit of data in approximately 10 nanometers (nm); DNA can store 2 bits per 0.34 nm. One kilogram of DNA can store 2×1024 bits that would require more than 109 kg of silicon for flash memory. A few tens of kilograms of DNA could meet the world’s storage needs for centuries to come.
The global dna storage market is expected to grow at a CAGR 3.8% during the forecast period, 2023–2031.
Stability is another major factor bolstering the DNA storage market growth. Traditional forms of data storage, including magnetic, optical, and flash memory, are degraded over time, and the technology becomes obsolescence. On the other hand, DNA storage is exceptionally stable, with a molecule half-life of over 500 years. DNA is therefore considered to be one of the most abundant and scalable proposals in the next-generation data storage market.
Data storage crisis in the internet age is the primary cause of the need for DNA storage technologies. Experts predict that by 2025, humans will produce 160 zettabytes of data each year. The digital data storage platforms are currently outpacing the storage capabilities as the amount of digital data produced grows exponentially. Modern digital information storage technologies such as flash memory rely on silicon-based microelectronics, which would require more than 1,000 kilograms of wafer-grade silicon for storing the world’s data by 2040.
As the projected supply of single-crystal wafer grade silicon is insufficient to meet the rising demand, scientists are exploring new sustainable materials to support the world’s information storage needs in the upcoming years. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) provided by nature has proven to be the most desired storage problem. DNA is the storage system for all code that governs biological life, offers a higher storage density, and can be preserved for hundreds of thousands of years.
All the aforementioned factors make the DNA the ideal solution to man’s forecasted information storage problems in the near future.
DNA is a scalable, random-access, and error-free data storage system which is driving its speedy growth. Utility in long-term data storage and a longer life span are other factors driving the market growth. Advancements in next-generation sequencing have enabled rapid and error-free readout of DNA stored data. DNA can store vast amounts of data in a highly dense medium, eliminating the data storage crisis in the upcoming years.
The catalog is one of the first commercial DNA storage companies that has partnered with Cambridge Consultants to build a proprietary DNA data storage machine that will synthesize 1TB of data per day. The product is cost-efficient and will revolutionize the approach to archival data storage and pave the way for further advancements in next-generation storage technologies.
DNA synthesis methods heavily rely on organic chemistry methodologies. But these procedures are ancient. There is a need to replace or upgrade them to synthesize novel DNA sequences. However, the upgradation is limited by the inefficiencies of non-biological DNA synthesis methods. These inefficiencies have limited the data file size stored in DNA, which is a major market restraint.
Technologically engineered biological enzymes to synthesize DNA fragments are also cost-effective, which is expected to boost the market growth in the upcoming years. Biological approaches to synthesize DNA acts as a catalyst for the growth of cost-effective DNA storage. New technologies for faster reading of data stored in DNA are needed to advance the field forward. Commercial developers and many academic institutions are developing the 2nd generation synthesis technology that will significantly reduce costs and facilitate new technologies that support storing data in DNA.
In addition to the cheap DNA synthesis technologies, advanced coding schemes and operating systems tailored to DNA storage devices are also necessary for compact, fast, and easy read-out of data. Random access retrieval of data facilitated by biologically-inspired mechanisms and the utility of DNA modification techniques to explore the increased density of data is anticipated to revolutionize the global approach to data access and computing during the forecast period.
Compelling DNA storage advantages over orders of magnitude greater storage density and long-term stability is a favorable factor for market growth in the near future. Several companies invest in the technology to leverage these significant competitive advantages to facilitate the commercial usage of DNA as a data storage medium, especially as DNA synthesizing technology becomes cost-effective. In conjunction with this, computers with operating systems tailored for random access retrieval of data will also usher in a new paradigm for computing along with production, storage, and access.
DNA data storage involves writing the code via DNA synthesis and reading the code via DNA sequencing. This determines the ability to use DNA as a storage solution in the short and long term. The primary methodology currently used for synthesizing DNA is based on phosphoramidite chemistry backed by new technologies such as microfluidic systems, ink-jet printing technology, digital photolithography, and electrochemistry. These methods have trade-offs in terms of the length of the sequence, error rates, product volume, production time, and cost.
DNA synthesis is done using microarray-based oligonucleotide synthesis technology that produces large volumes of short oligo sequences. These sequences are stitched together to produce longer gene sequences. The microarray-based oligonucleotide synthesis technology was initially developed to synthesize oligonucleotides attached to a microchip surface using a modified phosphoramidite synthesis process. It is an efficient method to generate large quantities of unique sequences in parallel. The method is also many magnitudes cheaper than column-based oligos.
It is well known that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business activities globally by imposing lockdowns, incurred production losses, majorly impacting the manufacturing, BFSI, and retail sectors. Many manufacturing plants, research facilities, and laboratories have been shut down, given the pandemic. Essential commodity companies can also not continue their production due to the lack of workforce and social distancing practices. Thus, it can be concluded that there is a slight decline in the global DNA or next-generation data storage market due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Paris-based DNA Script received USD 25M in public and private financing from Illumina Ventures, Merck Ventures, Sofinnova, Kurma, Idinvest, Bpifrance, and the European Commission. The team had already set records in the synthesis of a codon (3-letter strand of DNA) in 2015, enzymatic synthesis of a 10-nucleotide-long strand of DNA in 2016, enzymatic synthesis of a 30-nucleotide strand of DNA in 2017, and the enzymatic synthesis of a 50-nucleotide strand and a 150-nucleotide strand of DNA in 2018. The company has announced its plans for the commercialization of these technologies soon.
UK-based Evonetix, a developer of gene synthesis, is developing an enzymatic synthesis technology integrated into a new silicon array DNA synthesis platform capable of independent control over 10,000 parallel reactions. The company claims the new solution will radically decrease DNA synthesis costs and product turnover times, setting a new benchmark in the DNA storage industry of the future
Key players in the global DNA storage market include
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