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Wed, 11 September 2019

09:30 – 18:30 CEST

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Aula Magna Guido Cazzavillan Università Ca’ Foscari

873 Cannareggio – 30121 Venezia – Italy


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TetrisBio immortalised data via encrypting it in the DNA

TetrisBio started as a project in BioSistemika, which is a company that develops software for lab equipment. Additionally, BioSistemika has also other projects, like electronic lab log SciNote, that are mostly focused on research and development. TetrisBio is one of them, focusing on DNA data encryption.

I did my master’s thesis on the topic so it was sort of natural development to this stage as I have a lot of knowledge on it and we thought this whole idea has great potential, so we decided to spin it out as a new company” Žan Pirc said at the beginning of 21th INNOtalks that was hosted by ABC Accelerator on 19th of July.

TetrisBio has not yet been established as a conventional start-up company, but has been in active field of research of entrepreneurship for about 10 months.

According to Pirc, the main goal of their project is to store digital data in DNA. In order to do that they are using the technology that already exists and are able to connect it in a way that is financially viable.

FOTO: Siniša Kanižaj

In order to achieve that, this project involves many people with interdisciplinary skills such as computer science theory and biology. For this project to succeed, however, all of the members have deep knowledge of data theory. According to Pirc, there is also another factor at play: “For every Tesla we need Edison in order to succeed.”

On the one hand, a project like theirs needs a highly qualified scientist who conceptualizes it and, at the same time, people who have entrepreneur’s skills as well in order to bring their product to the masses.

Pirc and his team want to store DNA data that you will use every couple of years and it is not envisioned for personal use: “Our project works as an archiving medium that big corporations would use for their backups. The more interesting factor, however, is that once one has encoded something into DNA, it could stay there for a few million years which is an unimaginable number comparing to the 30 years’ standard of today.”

The second advantage to the process is that it takes virtually no physical space. 

According to Pirc: “If you go to the theoretical limits of the DNA you could probably store few sizes of the internet in a cup of water.

To the question of Energy consumption Pirc commented, that once data is encrypted to the DNA, it consumes no energy whatsoever.

Additionally, there is a very slim chance that the data will be in physical danger, aside from few exceptions such as specific radioactivity. The reason for that is simple – the data within the DNA takes very little space, so it gives one space to shield it with additional protection.

FOTO: Siniša Kanižaj

At this point Pirc added, that in order to understand his project, one should take into account that he is researching DNA as a chemical compound and not a biological one.

“By removing the DNA sample from the living things we prevent data loss.”

And added that “one of the biggest breakthrough was achieved when early researchers stopped storing data in the living cell due to its instability”.

Even tough the field is highly complicated and specific, their project is not without competition. Past two years have seen the birth of many projects which aim to optimize data density and its ideal encoding to the DNA. However, these numerous projects do not tackle the issue of how to cut down the costs of the process. They wish to develop everything at once, especially the technology to print into DNA, which is currently very expensive.

Commenting on this Pirc stated that “Our concept, on the other hand, takes high price of the DNA encryption into account and we are constantly tackling the technology to be more cost efficient.”

Once they will achieve the goal of making the process significantly cheaper they plan to offer their product to big corporations. The latter usually have to archive an enormous amount of data and are always worried about what will happen to it if something goes wrong with infrastructure.

While it might take several stages to this point, Pirc confidently adds “at the end of the day it might prove to be move efficient and cost effective for them to store their data in DNA”.

FOTO: Siniša Kanižaj