Oxford Nanopore, British maker of portable DNA sequencing instruments, made a major announcement today. It has sequenced its first human genome on a MinION, a pint-size, portable machine that scientists are using in the field to sequence viruses like Ebola and Zika, as well as other pathogens.
What’s exciting about Oxford Nanopore is that it’s instruments are cheap—about $1,000 for the sequencer and a starter pack of consumables—as well as portable. The dominant player in this space, Illumina, sells its cheapest sequencing instrument to medical researchers for $49,000, which is about the size of a desktop computer. Of course, Illumina’s machines provide a much greater depth of coverage and are unrivaled for their accuracy, but Oxford Nanopore is proving that its devices are a viable alternative for some use-cases.
Oxford Nanopore has not received regulatory approval for its sequencer to be used for the purposes of diagnosing disease; thus far, it’s primary use is for research.
@chrissyfarr impressive on such an accessible device. Not immediately clear what a good use is for a genome of that quality beyond research
— Robert Borkowski (@rborkows) October 20, 2016