Are DNA Tattoos the Ultimate Commitment?
Hearing that someone has a tattoo dedicated to someone, or something in particular is pretty much the norm, right? Well, for Patrick Duffy that wasn’t enough, and so he decided to take the concept to untouched territory.
According to The New York Times, he went on to develop Everence, a powdery substance synthesised from a sample of DNA, something as simple as a few thousand cells from a swab of a person’s inner cheek, or from cremated ashes. This can then be brought to a tattoo artist and added to any type of inks, really creating an ultimate bond.
With the move, Duffy and Endeavor Life Sciences, joins the handful of biochackers, artists and technologists already delving into the world of biogenic tattoo artistry.
Although the practice has existed for a number of years, it has remained the work of underground artists.
In order to take part, the company asks you to mail your DNA samples to Endeavor’s laboratory in Quonset, R.I., where the material is milled, sterilised and enclosed in microscopic capsules of plexiglass – which is often used in medical applications like dentures, bone cement and cosmetic surgery.
The idea was sparked when Duffy was working at his non-profit therapeutic scuba diving program for veterans with his father. He wanted to find new ways of connecting people while honouring those they may have lost.
In an attempt to squash any backlash regarding biohackers, he sought out the help of some of the best in the tattoo industry, as well as biomedical engineering. He eventually found advisors, including Dr. Bruce Klitzman, an associate proffessor of surgery at Duke University, who endorses the practice. He also confirms that it is as safe as traditional tattoo inks.
Duffy and Dr. Edith Mathiowitz, a professor at the Centre for Biomedical Engineering at Brown University, have successfully patented the technology. Dr. Mathiowitz’s work has focused primarily on what applications polymers like PMMA can have in the human body, and has previously worked on removable tattoo ink projects.
The support for the idea continued to roll in, especially after an email found its way into the spam email of Virginia Elwood, a tattoo artist in Brooklyn.
“We’re connected to so many things in this world right now, be it through social media of sticking photos in the cloud, and I find that personally to be a bit hollow sometimes,” she explained. “So instead of taking something precious to me and uploading a picture of it to the server, I’m actually carrying it on my body, in my skin.”
It goes without saying, that there will be strict regulations to follow when dealing with cosmetics. He has however, insisted that he has done his homework on safety, and will adhere to the guidelines outlined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
If the idea has tickled your curiosity, you are going to have to be prepared to pay $650 for a vial of Everence. This includes the kit, the process of creating the powder and eventual return to the client months later.
However, Duffy is showing no signs of stopping there. He sees a future where paintings, textiles, or other emotionally resonant items are instilled with Everence.
“It’s not meant to deliver a drug, and it’s not meant to augment the body,” he said. “It’s about the emotion.”