Biological Fax Machine Delivering DNA On Demand

“Biological transportation” holds the promise of beaming new medicines across the globe over the internet. (Credit: Dan Gibson/Ted2018)

Biotech company, Synthetic Genomics, believe its ‘biological teleportation’ — a process in which DNA is digitally transmitted and printed out as synthetic sequences — will soon be mainstream. 

The platform, called the Digital to Biological Converter (DBC) enables digital genetic codes to be used to chemically generate oligonucleotides, writes The Wall Street Journal. These nucleotides can be combined and used in the production of viruses and proteins with 75% accuracy in about 24 hours.

The platform isn’t commercially available yet, but its accuracy is good enough for a prototype. 

If the technology proves to be successful, that would mean scientists could read and write the code of a DNA sequence in one part of the world, and doctors could print out these sequences for vaccines in another, speeding up the vaccine shipping process, and fighting epidemics more time-efficiently.

“Sending vaccines via digital file rather than stockpiling them and shipping them out will save countless lives,” Dan Gibson of Synthetic Genomics, tells Fast Company. 

With this new machine, Gibson says, “laboratory workflows that once took weeks or months could now be carried out in just one to two days,” comparing it to a fax machine, but for biological materials.

If you want to learn more about how this technology could change the way we respond to disease outbreak and enable us to download personalised prescription to our homes, you should check out Gibson’s Ted Talk below: