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DNA barcodes leap out of the lab

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The South Australian government has backed the commercialisation plans of a locally developed DNA barcoding technology to be launched internationally as a security and authentication tool.

Biotech outfit GeneWorks claims its DNA barcoding invention, which can invisibly mark a range of valued items, is compatible with forensic analysis and legal applications, unlike technologies currently on the market.

The detection method for GeneWorks’ barcodes follows the same path as DNA forensic typing, which analyses STR (Short Tandem Repeat) fragments of human DNA.

As this barcode technology is already accepted by the legal system worldwide, GeneWorks anticipates that its technology will gain traction as submission for evidence in court cases.

“The plan is to have, within a year, sufficient unique codes that will be able to be applied to all sorts of industries to tag and track items. This could be from fisheries to art to money or illegal drugs. It’s limitless really,”GeneWorks general manager Nik Psevdos.

The GeneWorks technology can also be applied as a fixative spray which can physically tag intruders upon entering a security protected premise.

“The analysis can be done in-house by forensics, not by a third party. Forensics could have complete control of the process from analysis to interpretation of results,” Psevdos.

The South Australia State government funded development of this new DNA barcoding technology via its biotech incubator BioSA. The technology is currently undergoing validation by Forensic Science SA, before commercial deployment which aims to take a stab at the US$82 billion global security market.

A new entity, GeneWorks Technologies Pty Ltd, has been set up to commercialise the product internationally with plans to significantly expand its team and create skilled biotechnology jobs in the sector.

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