SecureDNA was designed to screen all oligonucleotide and gene synthesis orders for the most up-to-date list of known and emerging hazards.

DNA synthesis screening


  • Free

    To safeguard biotechnology, SecureDNA is free for all providers to use at no cost

  • Fast

    Seamless ordering without delays, with optional customer pre-screening using biosafety authority permissions

  • Hardware-integrated

    Compatible with synthesizers and assemblers without a human in the loop


  • Sensitive

    Detects all known hazardous sequences and predicted functional equivalents as short as 30 base pairs

  • Specific

    A negligible false alarm rate due to careful curation permits automated screening

  • Up-to-date

    Our centralized hazards database is immediately updated by our biosecurity team as soon as a new threat is identified

Secure and independent

  • Privacy-preserving

    Cryptography keeps all customer data uninterpretable to protect trade secrets

  • International

    Accessible worldwide to all gene synthesis providers who want to screen orders against known hazards

  • Politically neutral

    Run by a Swiss foundation without involvement by any government

Detailed description of the platform

Hands of a scientist, under a sterile hood, preparing the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) vaccinia used to try to prevent cancer.

The SecureDNA system meets all of these criteria by using a novel exact-match search algorithm that finds matches to hazards and functional equivalents. It does this by generating the set of all hazard subsequences of a predefined length, choosing some to defend quasi-randomly, then using algorithms to generate millions of functionally equivalent subsequences of each. These are subjected to reverse screening by comparing them to existing sequence databases in order to remove any that match known non-hazardous entries.

The reverse screening step virtually eliminates false positives, the inclusion of quasi-random functional variants prevents adversaries from redesigning or mutating the hazard to evade screening, and searching for 42 (soon 30) base pair subsequences makes it difficult to assemble hazards from oligonucleotides that are too small to be screened using other methods.

Because exact-match screening is computationally efficient, we can apply oblivious multi-party cryptography to protect the confidentiality of both orders and the hazard database. Using this scheme, each possible subsequence of an order to be screened is turned into a unique cryptographic hash, and each such hash is then looked up in the database of hazards.

This hash requires multiple separate machines to compute, meaning that even an attacker who could eavesdrop on network traffic or compromise a subset of computers in the screening system cannot learn the plaintext of a customer order, and not even SecureDNA itself ever receives the customer’s DNA sequences—they remain safely on-premises at a provider or within the hardware of a benchtop synthesizer.

Screening for hazardous DNA sequences is provided as a free service by the SecureDNA Foundation, an independent nonprofit foundation in the sense of Article 80 et seqq. Swiss Civil Code with legal seat in Zug, Switzerland. The purpose of the Foundation is to develop, maintain, administrate, distribute, and encourage the universal adoption of software for screening nucleic acid sequences. The Foundation may support any action intended to prevent nucleic acids from being used to cause harm.

Partners and Support

We are grateful for support from the Open Philanthropy Project to team members at MIT, Aarhus University, and Northeastern University, and to an anonymous Chinese philanthropist for a donation to team members at Tsinghua University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

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