Rapid authentication of pharmaceuticals via DNA tagging and field detection

PLoS One
[Accessed 15 Jun 2019]


Research Article
Rapid authentication of pharmaceuticals via DNA tagging and field detection
Lawrence Jung, Michael E. Hogan, Yuhua Sun, Benjamin Minghwa Liang, James A. Hayward
| published 13 Jun 2019 PLOS ONE
A small PCR-generated DNA fragment was introduced into a pharmaceutical grade ink as a molecular taggant, and the DNA tagged ink was delivered onto the surface of capsules by standard high-speed offset printing. The amount of DNA in the ink on each capsule is roughly 10−12 fold lower than that allowed as safe by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the WHO with regards to acceptable limits of residual DNA. The printed ink on the capsule surface was sampled by swabbing, followed by direct analysis of the DNA-swab complex, without subsequent DNA purification. It was shown that DNA recovered from the ink by swabbing was suitable for PCR-CE analysis—a widely used method in forensic science and was also suitable for qPCR and isothermal DNA amplification, when coupled with portable devices similar to those used for environmental sampling and food safety testing. The data set a precedent: A small DNA fragment could be introduced as an excipient into a pharmaceutical application, and thereafter tracked through the pharmaceutical supply chain via forensic DNA authentication.