Wednesday, February 22, 2012

USB Gene Sequencer?

Genetics-based medicines, immediate identity determination, field-portable gene sequencers for use in medical work in foreign countries or for analyzing individual/community makeup of microorganisms in extreme environments, a way to determine what our children's genotype will be...  Well, maybe not that last one just yet, but that's probably not too far off.  A company in England, Oxford Nanopore, has claimed that they will have a disposable, direct-reading gene sequencer which can be plugged into the USB drive of a computer for immediate analysis!  Behold, the future is ever upon us!  The potential for molecular biological processing hardware such as this is wide reaching.  I have been wondering for some time when we would get around to full genotype sequencing in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee.  This technology sounds promising.  It will use a method of direct-reading of gene sequences through electrochemical methods as the sequences pass through a nanopore.  I'm very curious to see when the company can get the product to the market, how much it will cost (I saw an estimate of $900 a shot, but I imagine it's going to be a bit more than that right out of the gate), and, most importantly, I wonder what the fidelity of the reads will be like with these mini gene sequencers.

Here's where I first heard about Oxford Nanopore's claimed technology:

Another review (and, personally, a more thorough and thoughtful review):
80 Beats at Discover Magazine

This is the website for Oxford Nanopore:

Image Source: MinION from Oxford Nanopore's website

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