Oxford Nanopore delivers on promised MinION gene reader that is about the size of a flash drive

Nanopore sensing technology can be miniaturised into a portable device for electronic single molecule sensing. This is possible because of recent advances made by Oxford Nanopore in using new polymers to form robust, long lasting bilayers on its proprietary arrayed sensing chip.

The MinION isn’t for sale yet—at this time the company is making prototypes available to a selected people in the genome sequencing field. It will cost $1000 for a down-payment.

The MinION system is a disposable device that contains the sensor chip, ASIC and nanopores that are needed to perform a complete single molecule sensing experiment. Plugging directly into a laptop or desktop computer through a USB port, it is a self-contained device to deliver real-time experimental data.

The MinION device is adaptable for DNA sequencing, protein sensing and other nanopore sensing techniques.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies created a stir in the biological sciences world in 2012 when representatives for the company announced that its research team had successfully created a sequencing device based on nanopore technology and that an inexpensive prototype would be delivered to researchers outside the company soon thereafter. The company apparently ran into difficulty ramping up its pore technology and had to find some alternative materials—thus the two year delay.

Nanopore sequencing is where single strands of DNA are pulled through a pore—as each base pair passes through the pore its conductivity is measured—information that can be used for identification by a computer. The advantage of this approach is that at least in principle, any strand length can be sequenced.

If the error rates using the MinION can be reduced to a practical level, the device could mark a turning point in genome sequencing as it would be a device that could be carried and used for fieldwork

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