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DNA Infusion - Providing an Identity and Voice to Pharmaceuticals

Judy Murrah, CIO, Applied DNA Sciences Inc

The Internet of Things is focused on smart things. “Unintelligent” things such as pharmaceuticals need a voice to ensure that they are real, safe, and traceable. With many devastating stories in the media every day, at unmeasurable global scale, one thing we can be sure…our lives depend on it!

“Botanically-derived DNA as an information carrier, supported by mobile readers and an online authentication platform, can be a transformational solution” 

Botanically-derived DNA as an information carrier, supported by mobile readers and an online authentication platform, can be a transformational solution. This Identity of Things (IDoT) concept can be constructed simply or it can be multi-layered with multi-factor authentication.

SigNature® DNA forms the simple, forensic ingredient of identity. Just a molecule of DNA with a known sequence is assigned a meaning related to the item it marks (e.g., source, owner, time period or other). It is stored in a database available for future authentication reference. A DNA reader is used in a lab or in the field to extract identity information from the DNA. Checked and updated against a database, its contextual attributes could include such indicators as time and geo-location stamp, authenticator and other relevant characteristics captured from the physical object or transaction.  Each authentication adds currency to the item’s value by reinforcing its authenticity and traceability throughout its lifecycle.

  Taking this example further, a multi-DNA version of this concept can be called a “product genome”. SigNature DNA can be adhered to or embedded in each of the following layers of the product: a tablet’s Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API), an excipient, the tablet labeling ink; in the plastic package, and in packaging print inks. Combining these DNA codes, a multi-factor identity of a given product is formed, all added seamlessly as part of each existing manufacturing process. The pharmaceutical now has a product genome, which can be authenticated “CSI-like” against internet-connected databases as it travels through the value chain.

As this platform emerges, the innovation is in the way we use it to communicate transparently about such endeavors as material sourcing, manufacturing origin, and ingredient traceability. Compelling to the CIO, as the world of biotechnology and information technology collide, it yields a new progressive way to secure and share encrypted information. The floodgates have opened. Begin now to recruit the skills, build the processes and infrastructure, and gain experience through field trials.

Proof is in the cotton supply chain. Over 100 million pounds of American cotton have been given a SigNature DNA identity during ginning in California’s San Joaquin Valley. On its journey, it became yarn, fabric and finished goods in Asia. Then it traveled back to the United States onto stores shelves where the DNA identity applied to the original cotton is verified and traced. Everyone wins—the consumer, retail brands, farmers, and all members of the supply chain—embracing a new way to ensure a simple cotton bud had an identity and voice in today’s commercial world.

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