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Has Applied DNA Cracked the Code on Forensically Foolproof Cotton?

Applied DNA Sciences Inc. announced a development in its cotton genomics program on Monday that it believes can bring forensic proof of cotton authenticity and provenance specifically related to regional cotton varietals to give brands and relevant regulatory authorities access to fiber origin data regardless of manufacturing location.

The company, which is commercializing LinearDNA, its proprietary, large-scale polymerase chain reaction-based manufacturing platform that allows for the large-scale production of specific DNA sequences, said it recently presented initial data describing a methodology and findings for the successful determination of Egyptian cotton fiber, yarn and fabric origin using the combination of cotton genomics and isotopic analysis (IA) at an American Apparel and Footwear Association event. Applied DNA intends to publish its methodology and data when it completes its manuscript.

The program, an ongoing applied genomics strategy to identify genomic markers that are associated with cotton grown within specific geographies, has identified a biomarker specific to Giza 94, the largest planted Egyptian cotton varietal used in the production of premium cotton textiles. This biomarker was confirmed to be specific to Giza 94 grown in Egypt by validation with stable isotope analysis through a collaboration between the company and Isotech Laboratories, a division of Stratum Reservoir.

The data showed the Giza 94 biomarker was present in all samples bearing an IA signature from Egypt. The biomarker was not present in samples confirmed to not be of Egyptian origin by IA.

Given these findings, the company believes that it has proven for the first time that the geographic origin of cotton can be definitively ascertained via genotyping, a process of determining minute differences in the DNA of living matter. Applied DNA has filed a provisional patent application on its newly discovered biomarker with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and intends to develop the biomarker into a rapid and cost-effective geoTyping assay that can be performed by various supply chain stakeholders and any molecular diagnostics lab.

“With textile brands sourcing finished product from factories globally, the provenance of cotton is often opaque to brands, regulatory bodies and consumers alike,” Dr. James A. Hayward, chairman and CEO of Applied DNA, said. “The ability to determine Egyptian Giza 94 cotton origin genomically via DNA-based geoTyping is a game-changer for an industry still recovering from the multi-hundred-million-dollar fallout in 2016 of mislabeled cotton sheeting sold by leading U.S. retailers.

“The industry is seeking to find a fast, accurate and immutable means of establishing cotton origin to address concerns of cotton authenticity and provenance,” Hayward added. “Through geoTyping, we are working to bring the same level of fidelity to cotton from the U.S., India, Australia and China.”

Applied DNA is commercializing LinearDNA, its proprietary, large-scale polymerase chain reaction-based manufacturing platform that allows for the large-scale production of specific DNA sequences. The LinearDNA platform has non-biologic applications such as supply chain security, anti-counterfeiting and anti-theft technology. Key end-markets include textiles, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, and cannabis.

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