Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Sci-fi science (Part 2): the MinION

After my last post on Sci-fi science, I remembered another cinematic dream of mine.
Being heavily involved in genomics, that is to say doing a lot of sequencing of the genetic material of microbes and teasing out meaningful information out of a large mass of data, I have always been quite wishful of the movie "Gattaca". When Uma Thurman gives a single hair to the sequencing booth and less than a minute later she is informed of the suitability of her love interest. Not that I would like to know how good a match I make with the bugs I grow, but that would save us a lot of time waiting for data to come back and sitting in front of the computer. This year a UK company might have brought sci-fi that little bit closer to reality with their USB sequencer.
The UK company Oxford Nanopore Technologies are planning to release their tweaked USB memory stick that can sequence more than 150 million bases in their 6h life-time (about 20 of those would do a human genome!) and can be purchased for less than US$900! The days of manual sequencing of a couple of 100 bases on large gels are definitely over...

The "old style" room full of machine vs. the  new USB sequencer!


  1. These will enable me to quote Gru from Despicable Me- "Assemble the Minions" whenever we need to do any sequencing!

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  3. I wonder if they have an extreme version that is capable of sequencing extremophiles? maybe there will be one of these on the next mars lander?

  4. Perhaps a little late; but doesn't every good (evil?) scientist need a minion?