Digital Signature for Verifying the Origin and Integrity of Synthetic DNA Sequences
At A Glance
Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a novel embedded cryptographic system to digitally sign and authenticate synthetic DNA. The possibility of verifying the integrity and identifying the author of signed DNA molecules will significantly increase the productivity and safety of experiments relying on synthetic DNA while allowing the developers to assert their intellectual property rights. Source code implementing the invention is proprietary and will be provided to the licensee.
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The biotechnology industry heavily relies on synthetic DNA molecules to produce proteins, develop vaccines, or cure genetic diseases. Proper documentation of these molecules is critical to ensure the reproducibility and safety of the processes in which they are used. Documentation generally comes in the form of computer files in standard formats supported by bioinformatics software. However, there is no direct linkage between the DNA molecules and the files that describe them.
Keeping track of the association between a DNA molecule and the computer file describing it proves surprisingly challenging because DNA molecules are often edited at the molecular level and they can also randomly mutate on their own. As a result, there are widespread discrepancies between the physical sequences of the molecules in circulation in the life science community (both commercial and research) and their supposed reference sequence. This situation creates reproducibility issues, slows down R&D efforts, and raises significant security and safety issues.
For more information on the field of Synthetic DNA and Cyberbiosecurity, please see the related articles listed below.
- Digital signature ensures origin and integrity of DNA molecules
- Can identify scientist or organization that signed the molecule and verify that the molecule has not been altered
- Provides benefit to both the developer of a DNA molecule and the end user
- Allows genetic engineers to assert right associated with authorship
- Limit liability exposure by allowing companies to distance themselves from modified sequences
- Can guarantee function of DNA molecules but not its derivatives
- Can be used to demonstrate stability of genetic systems used to produce biologic drugs and other biotechnology products
- Synthetic DNA molecule development and authentication
- Bioinformatics software applications
- Service applications, wherein company can provide digitally signed DNA molecules
Application of Digital Signatures:
Kar, Diptendu Mohan, et al. “Digital Signatures to Ensure the Authenticity and Integrity of Synthetic DNA Molecules.” Digital Signatures to Ensure the Authenticity and Integrity of Synthetic DNA Molecules | Proceedings of the New Security Paradigms Workshop, 1 Aug. 2018, dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/3285002.3285007.
Gallegos, Jenna E, et al. “Securing the Exchange of Synthetic Genetic Constructs Using Digital Signatures.” BioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1 Jan. 2019, www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/750927v1.abstract.
Gallegos, Jenna E., and Jean Peccoud. “DNA Has Gone Digital – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” The Conversation, 17 Dec. 2017, theconversation.com/dna-has-gone-digital-what-could-possibly-go-wrong-87662.
Scoles, Sarah. “Meet the Scientists on the Frontlines of Protecting Humanity from a Man-Made Pathogen.” Leapsmag, 30 Apr. 2020, leapsmag.com/meet-the-scientists-on-the-frontlines-of-protecting-humanity-from-a-man-made-pathogen/.
Last updated: June 2020