The first next-gen sequencing device of the size of an iPhone has been shipped. It is called MinION and is developed by the Oxford-based company Nanopore technologies. The long research and development process has finally paid off.
How can a next-gen sequencer hold in a so small device? It uses a newly developed nanopore sequencing method. Each DNA letter goes through a tiny little nanopore and the specific electric changes to each DNA letter is detected. This nanopore system can be miniaturized and enable scientists to sequence long DNA chains instead of small 150 letters chains to be assembled afterwards. The device nevertheless is not as accurate as competing technologies could be. It reads only 60% to 85% of letters correctly compared to Illumina’s sequencer which is 99,9% accurate. This makes this device not a direct competitor but a complementary device that has a lot of new applications thanks to its tiny size. One example could be police investigators, who could use this sequencer directly in the street and gain time.