The leather trade show Lineapelle in Milan.

Applied DNA Sciences said today that it successfully completed its one-year consortium research project with BLC Leather Technology Centre Ltd., a U.K.-based organization. The project aimed to apply and recover DNA tags throughout various stages of the leather supply chain. Its research findings concluded that the technical feasibility of DNA marking throughout the leather supply chain is possible by employing the firm’s “SigNature DNA.”

Stages included the application of DNA to animals on a farm and tested for recovery when the hides were delivered to a tannery; DNA application at the “wet blue stage” after initial tanning and tested for recovery following leather splitting on both grain leather and drop splits; and DNA application during the leather finishing process, followed by a test for recovery, all according to the firm. Each test for recovery was completed successfully.

The firm’s SigNature DNA is a molecular tag that can be embedded into raw materials or applied to the surface of a range of objects, including currencies, pharmaceuticals, electronics, packaging and even fine art. SigNature DNA is intended to authenticate product claims, molecular tagging can be customized and incorporated into products at any point in the life cycle or supply chain, the company said. Each unique tag or “taggant” could be likened to that of a fingerprint.

Applied DNA Sciences’ hangtag and motto.

Applied DNA Sciences’ hangtag and motto.  Joshua Scott

Dr. James Hayward, president and ceo of Applied DNA, said, “Success in this category is a testament to the adaptability of DNA, but more importantly, to the skills of our teams and the strength of our intellectual property. When properly formulated, DNA can survive most manufacturing processes and physicochemical environments.” Dr. Hayward continued, “We are grateful to all of our sponsors and to all those now participating in a pre-commercialization, scaled-up pilot trail, including, among others: National Wildlife Federation, Puma, the Scottish Leather Group and Tong Hong Tanneries.”

Tony Benson, Applied DNA’s managing director with responsibility for Europe, Middle East and Africa said, “We were delighted for the opportunity to prove our technology in the most severe of environments and to work alongside our partners, BLC. We are especially thankful to the five global brands, one non-government organization and two tanneries who helped to sponsor this research project and make it a success. Special thanks go to Ms. La’Deva McKenzie of BLC and Dr. Jo Greenwood, Technical Director EMEA, for their outstanding work.”

Dr. Victoria Addy, technical director, BLC, said, “We are delighted at the results which exceeded everyone’s expectations. The potential for this technology to help the leather industry to ensure a fully traceable supply chain cannot be underestimated and we look forward to working with Applied DNA and sponsors in the coming months to see the technology being introduced.”

And Barbara Bramble, vice president of International Conservation and Corporate Strategies for the National Wildlife Federation said that the newfound “clarity on the origin of leather can help protect native habitat and wildlife by providing producers and suppliers with the necessary information to follow through on ‘zero-deforestation’ and other supply chain commitments to protect native habitat.”

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