The fifteen-minute genome
Nanopore sequencer Oxford Nanopore Technologies, a UK firm that promises its third-generation technology could theoretically sequence a human genome in 15 minutes, impressed scientists with the first public presentation of its data on 17 February at the “Advances in Genome Biology and Technology” meeting in Marco Island, Florida (US). The firm’s “Strand sequencing” technology identifies bases in real time by measuring electrical conductivity as a DNA strand is fed through a biological nanopore. The GridION system comprises scalable nodes that contain array chips for multi-nanopore sequencing of single strands, allowing the user to choose a run time between minutes and days. The initial version, which will be available this year, is designed for real-time sequencing by 2,000 nanopores at once to deliver tens of gigabits of data per 24 hours. Oxford said that an 8,000-nanopore GridION configuration, which the company asserts could perform whole genome sequencing in 15 minutes, will be available in early 2013. Oxford Nanopore said that GridION will be sold at a price-per-base “as competitive as other leading systems at launch.” The company also said that MinION, a miniature version of the platform, will be available this year. Nanopore sequencing has the potential to achieve read lengths of up to 10,000 bases, ten times more than the best current platforms. Additionally, the technology promises more cost-effectiveness than current sequencing methods which all are dependent on costly fluorescence cameras and labels. A second application dubbed “Exonuclease sequencing”, which includes enzymatic DNA cleavage, has been partnered with US firm Illumina Inc.