Artist creates erasing spray to make your DNA untraceable

A New Yorker has created a spray which can remove all traces of left behind DNA. AP Photo

TORONTO – A New York artist says she has created a spray that can remove all traces of DNA left behind on objects.

The product dubbed ‘Invisible’ will be introduced as a set of sprays: ‘Erase’ deletes 99.5 per cent of DNA from fingernail, saliva or hair samples, while ‘Replace’ obscures the remaining .5 per cent.

“You wouldn’t leave your medical records on the subway for just anyone to read,” writes Heather Dewey-Hagborg, artist and founder of BioGenFutures. “ It should be a choice. You should be in control of how you share your information and with whom: be it your email, your phone calls, your SMS messages, and certainly your genes.”

Heather Dewey-Hagborg. AP Photo

The company says its product aims to “protect our privacy and prevent unauthorized testing of someone’s DNA without their knowledge.”

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“I was just really disturbed but also preoccupied by this emerging possibility of genetic surveillance,” she told The Verge in an interview. “It just struck me that we were having a national dialogue about electronic surveillance, but this form of biological surveillance isn’t being discussed.” [This product] expands on that work by imagining a future wherein discrimination based on genetics is an everyday fear.”

VIDEO: Invisible – The future of genetic privacy

Last year, a TED Talk documentary featured the work of Dewey-Hagborg and looked at “DNA sequencing becoming faster and cheaper.”

While the science behind the spray has yet to be revealed,  the product is set to be released to the public in June and will cost $99.

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Dewey-Hagborg’s previous work ‘Stranger Visions’ caused controversy, as she created portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. AP Photo

In 2012, Dewey-Hagborg made international headlines with  ‘Stranger Visions.’ The work saw Dewey-Hagborg create portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. The artist collected hair, cigarette butts and chewing gum from the streets of New York and made realistic 3D portraits of the strangers that left them by analyzing the DNA the samples contained.

Her work aimed to prove that traces of DNA left on a wine glass or cigarette can be enough to build a genetic profile of someone.