Does this mean someday we'll be able to store digital porn in our DNA?

Stanford bioengineers create programmable data storage within DNA of living cells

I ask the question in this post's headline for "a friend." From the Stanford University School of Medicine:

“It took us three years and 750 tries to make it work, but we finally did it,” said Jerome Bonnet, PhD, of his latest research, a method for repeatedly encoding, storing and erasing digital data within the DNA of living cells.

Bonnet, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University, worked with graduate student Pakpoom Subsoontorn and assistant professor Drew Endy, PhD, to reapply natural enzymes adapted from bacteria to flip specific sequences of DNA back and forth at will. ...

In practical terms, they have devised the genetic equivalent of a binary digit — a “bit” in data parlance. “Essentially, if the DNA section points in one direction, it’s a zero. If it points the other way, it’s a one,” Subsoontorn explained.

Admittedly, zeroes and ones don't make for compelling porn (or so I'm told). But let's give the researchers a chance to move toward that holy grail. They'll get there! In the meantime, we'll just have to lower our sights and settle for using data storage within living cells on frivolous stuff like cancer and aging research. For example, according to Stanford School of Medicine website, by storing data in the DNA of living cells, researchers "could count how many times a cell divides ... and that might someday give scientists the ability to turn off cells before they turn cancerous." OK, I guess that could be useful too.

Chris Nerney writes ITworld's Tech Business Today blog. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisNerney. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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