While data output and quality of Next Generation Sequencing is continually increasing, the cost per base is steadily dropping. A survey from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) shows that the cost development even exceeds Moore’s law. New doorways for research are opening, which may not have been regarded as realistic in the past due to this trend.
For example, over the past years, several approaches have been made to use DNA as a means of storing information. In a study recently published online in Science, scientists developed a strategy to encode and read digital information using DNA Synthesis and Next Generation Sequencing Systems.
A html document containing more than 50,000 words, 11 JPG images, and a Java Script program was encoded in DNA by synthesizing nearly 55,000 oligonucleotides on high-fidelity microarrays. The information stored in the oligonucleotides library was later “read” by Illumina sequencing.
According to the authors, DNA is a very useful medium for long term storage of information: DNA is very stable over many years, allows data storage at very high density and small volumes. The senior author, Kosuri, told InSequence, they only used some 50 ng of oligonucleotides to store the information of this html document! Kosuri admitted that the study costed several thousand dollars. However, if Next Generation Sequencing continues to develop at the same speed as today, new applications such as using DNA for (long-term) data storage may become a feasible option.
So let us see what is coming next!