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Applied DNA Sciences Inc. fights counterfeits with DNA

PHOTO CREDIT: MCT CAMPUS
DNA technology can be used to help with both defense and anti-counterfeiting measures. (PHOTO CREDIT: TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)

Applied DNA Sciences Inc. (ADNAS), a Stony Brook-based biotechnology company working with DNA authentication to combat counterfeiting, entered into a two-year $2.97 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense on behalf of the Defense Logistics Agency.

The company makes use of plant-based DNA to design markers which can be applied onto or into products, ensuring their authenticity. According to the company’s website, full double-stranded plant DNA is extracted, encrypted, reassembled and replicated to generate customized sequences for the company to utilize.

The DLA’s Rapid Innovation Fund project will use this “SigNature® DNA” technology as an anti-counterfeiting measure in six Department of Defense Federal Supply Groups, including Vehicular Equipment Components, Engine Accessories and Electrical and Electronic Equipment Components, according to a press release on the company’s website.

ADNAS’s Vice President for Government and Military Programs Janice Meraglia explained the company has already marked one type of commodity in the last category, FSG 59—microcircuits, part of Federal Supply Class 5962.

Other than defense, there are a variety of fields ADNAS worked with in the past, such as clothing manufacturers in order to ensure authentic materials and security system manufacturers to create a DNA fog system which would be released upon intruders, marking them with the plant DNA.

“A lot of technologies or a lot of solutions are around finding counterfeits or stopping counterfeits, but we don’t go that path—we go by an assurance of authenticity,” Meraglia said. “Counterfeiters are changing what they do all the time, so by including our solution set in the beginning of manufacturing, we make it more of a proof positive method.”

ADNAS has its corporate headquarters and laboratories based in the Stony Brook office, with most of the research and development taking place right here on Health Sciences Drive, but the company also has an established branch in the UK.

With many of the executive board members and staff being Stony Brook alumni, ADNAS has close ties to the university. Meraglia also said the company works often with SBU in using equipment onsite and learning more about the technologies they will be working to develop anti-counterfeit products for.

As for future plans for the company, government contracts like this one look to be a stepping stone to further research and expansion in their line of products and services.

“What people are starting to think about Applied DNA Sciences is that we’re a DNA marking company. That’s only one part of what we as a company do,” Meraglia said. “One side is customer interaction and business development while the other involves R&D and product quality. Every success like this one is because of both sides of that coming together.”

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