I am an astrobiologist, sci-fi geek, and professor of everything groovy. I write about science, culture, math, history, space, and science fiction. Perhaps like you, I'm seeking a greater understanding of the nature of life and asking myself why all of this really matters. Come with me, and we'll ask some questions together.
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: