Skip to Content

DNA Sequencing To Go

A British startup is commercializing a USB-sized sequencing machine.
February 17, 2012

Oxford Nanopore says it will begin selling by the end of the year a disposable DNA sequencer about the size of a USB memory stick that can be plugged directly into a laptop or desktop computer and used to perform a single-molecule sensing experiment. The device is expected to sell for $900, according to the company. 

Oxford Nanopore’s MinION device. Credit: Oxford Nanopore.

The company also unveiled a larger benchtop version of the technology. It says a configuration of 20 of the benchtop instruments could completely sequence a human genome in 15 minutes.

The technology is based on a radically different sequencing method that has been in the work for more than a decade at Oxford University, Harvard and the University of California, Santa Cruz. DNA strands are pulled through nanopores embedded in a polymer. As the DNA passes through the nanopore, specific sequences are identified based on varying electronic signals from the different bases. As a result, the technology can read DNA sequences directly and continuously. The company says double-stranded DNA can be sensed directly from blood.

The announcement comes at a time when the cost and time of DNA sequencing is dropping dramatically. Earlier this year, Life Technologies showed off a benchtop sequencer that it says can decode a human genome in one day for less than $1,000. By making sequencing far cheaper and faster, the new generation of instruments could finally make personalized medicine a reality. 

Keep Reading

Most Popular

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

pig kidney transplant surgery
pig kidney transplant surgery

Surgeons have successfully tested a pig’s kidney in a human patient

The test, in a brain-dead patient, was very short but represents a milestone in the long quest to use animal organs in human transplants.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

thermal image of young woman wearing mask
thermal image of young woman wearing mask

The covid tech that is intimately tied to China’s surveillance state

Heat-sensing cameras and face recognition systems may help fight covid-19—but they also make us complicit in the high-tech oppression of Uyghurs.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.