A patent application was recently released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, pointing towards Intel’s plans to use blockchain technology for nucleobase technology in its proposed type of machine, dubbed as a Sequence Mining Platform (SMP).
The patent was filed by Rajesh Poornachandran and Ned Smith from Intel Corporation. Upon further study, the proposed SMP seems to perform the function of identifying the order of nucleobases in nucleic acids (DNA or RNA).
The machine will be utilizing a blockchain platform to verify and record new findings.
Studying genetic structure from its foundations
Nucleobases are biological compounds in what could be considered their simplest form. Nucleobases have the ability to form base pairs and to stack one upon another, which leads directly to structures such as DNA and RNA.
The SMP, for which Intel filed the application, will be built using conventional computer hardware and additional elements that will specifically be designed for the system. The patent describes the functionality of the SMP as:
“A sequence mining platform (SMP) comprises a processor, at least one machine-accessible storage medium responsive to the processor, and a sequence manager in the machine-accessible storage medium.”
The patent goes further to introduce other components such as the sequence manager which would further delve into the sequences of the nucleobases.
“The sequence manager is configured to use processing resources to determine a sequence of nucleobases in a nucleic acid. The storage medium also comprises a blockchain manager to (a) collect transaction data for one or more transactions for a blockchain which requires a proof of work (POW) for each new block, and (b) include at least some of the transaction data in a new block for the blockchain. The storage medium also comprises a sequence mining module (SMM) to use the determined sequence of nucleobases from the sequence manager to create a POW for the new block. In one embodiment, the SMM enables an entity which controls the SMP to receive transaction rewards and sequencing rewards. Other embodiments are described and claimed.”
The proof of work system that is mentioned in Intel’s proposed design would be multipurpose, differentiated to the ones that are used by the blockchains of Bitcoin and Ethereum. If it works, the system is supposed to result in new blocks, while determining the genetic sequence from the provided data at the same time.
As mentioned above, the POW algorithm at work here will be utilized to identify the sequence and verify it. The application further describes that the sequence recorded on one block would be used as a base for the POW problems in the next block.
It contributes to both the blockchain and genetic technologies
While this isn’t the first time that combination of genetic sequencing is being coupled with blockchain technology, it is a very positive aspect for both industries involved.
If implemented as it is planned, this blockchain based SMP will seemingly help bring revolutionary findings to the forefront. Studying nucleobases is an intricate process, and if it is made easier by a technological platform that’s as innovative as blockchain, then it could go a long way