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Lithuania Leading the Way in DNA Data Storage Innovation

Genomika, in collaboration with Kaunas University of Technology and other partners, is pioneering an autonomous DNA-based data archiving solution
Emerging Technologies
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July 2, 2024

According to Renaldas Raišutis, Director of the K. Baršauskas Ultrasound Research Institute at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU URI), DNA caches can flawlessly archive vast amounts of data. “In a globally digitalized society, more and more data is created and used every year. Conventional data storage centers consume 1.5% of the world’s electricity and emit 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year,” he states.

The DNA Microfactory for Autonomous Archiving (DNAMIC) project Lab. [KTU]

The quest for reliable, high-density, sustainable, and economically viable data storage solutions is intensifying. Raišutis highlights the immense potential of storing data in DNA molecules as a promising avenue.

A Glimpse into the Future

Raišutis points out that 65 years ago, a 5 megabyte (MB) hard drive was so large it could barely fit in a cargo plane, whereas today, it’s the size of an average digital photograph. Despite significant advancements in data storage technologies, current methods struggle to keep pace with the burgeoning demand.

Enter the DNA Microfactory for Autonomous Archiving (DNAMIC) project. Led by Lithuanian company Genomika and an international team of researchers, this initiative aims to develop a DNA-based hard drive within three years. Funded by the EIC Pathfinder program, part of the European Horizon, this is the first Lithuanian project supported by this program, targeting companies that develop disruptive technologies.

Dr. Lukas Žemaitis, co-founder of Genomika, describes DNA as an information storage technology perfected over billions of years, offering a potential solution for future data storage needs.

Tackling Data Storage Challenges

Ignas Galminas, the second co-founder of Genomika, believes this invention could address numerous data storage issues, including the use of water and rare metals, and the challenge of longevity. “If the problem of data storage is not solved, by 2060, large data centers will cover the entire surface of the earth,” he warns.

DNA's inherent stability and reliability make it an ideal candidate for long-term data storage. Genomika, KTU, and researchers from four other countries are collaborating to develop a modular drive enabling users with no genetic technology expertise to record and read digital information using DNA.

Storing data in synthetic DNA structures ensures efficient space usage, a minimal footprint, and the ability to preserve information for thousands of years with very low energy consumption, says Prof. Raišutis.

“One attractive feature of DNA caches is their ability to store large amounts of information in a very small space. It is significantly more compact than traditional digital media. DNA is extremely stable and reliable for long-term storage of information,” Raišutis emphasizes.

He notes that DNA data storage is especially relevant in healthcare, where patient data needs to be stored for a lifetime. This technology is crucial for developing new diagnostics and treatments.

Transformative Potential

This project holds significant promise for the future of biotechnology globally and in Lithuania. By merging scientific and business expertise, innovative solutions on a global scale become achievable. “This is an exceptional project coordinated in Lithuania, which contributes to solving a global problem. It is not only technologically but also scientifically relevant, as a new field of science – DNA Data Storage – is starting to develop in Lithuania,” says Žemaitis.

Mindaugas Bulota, Head of KTU’s National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre (NIEC), describes DNA storage technology as a market game changer. He stresses the importance of staying ahead to become a world leader and generate substantial economic benefits. Success in international projects enhances Lithuania’s image as a developer of advanced technologies.

“Naturally, this also attracts the attention of larger investors. In the long term, we attract more foreign investors, which not only creates new, well-paid jobs but also brings knowledge and technology into the country,” Bulota explains.

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