Oxford Nanopore produces tiny, ultra-powerful device

Posted on 18 Feb 2012

Oxford-based producer of biotechnological sensors Oxford Nanopore announced it has successfully produced a sensor similar in size to a USB memory stick, able to decode DNA in a matter of hours.

The company yesterday presented DNA sequence data using its Nanopore ‘strand sequencing’ technique and proprietary high performance electronic devices GridION and MinION for the first time.

GridION systems are roughly the size of DVD player and can be stacked and made to communicate with each other to increase their speed. MinION systems are the above mentioned mobile devices, which are around the same size as a typical USB memory stick.

A spokesperson for Oxford Nanopore said: “[The MinION] is a disposable DNA sequencing device the size of a USB memory stick whose low cost, portability and ease of use are designed to make DNA sequencing universally accessible”.

The Oxfordshire-based firm has worked in conjunction with scientists at Harvard and the University of California in Santa Cruz to design and produce the sequencing devices and they estimate the product will be on the market later this year.

One commentator praised all companies involved for “creating something that helps the UK stand out as a country that remains home to truly innovative and creative engineers.”

Oxford Nanopore plans to introduce a new model of pricing schemes designed to deliver a price per base that is as competitive as other leading systems. Further pricing improvements are expected with future development to the technology, in particular with increases in the firm’s processing speed and higher density electronic sensor chips.