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Commercial, USB-Powered DNA Sequencer Coming This Year

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the we've-come-a-long-way-from-the-human-genome-project dept.

Biotech 95

Zothecula writes "Oxford Nanopore has been developing a disruptive nanopore-based technology for sequencing DNA, RNA, proteins, and other long-chain molecules since its birth in 2005. The company has just announced that within the next 6-9 months it will bring to market a fast, portable, and disposable protein sequencer that will democratize sequencing by eliminating large capital costs associated with equipment required to enter the field."

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95 comments

I'm going to sequence all my neighbors! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39103495)

By going through their trash.

Re:I'm going to sequence all my neighbors! (4, Interesting)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105167)

Isn't this just another step closer to the world of Blade Runner? Soon Make! will have articles on home gene splicing and growing organs with your Arduino controlled Tissue Growth Chamber.

Re:I'm going to sequence all my neighbors! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39106657)

Cool i want one...

Re:I'm going to sequence all my neighbors! (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 years ago | (#39106855)

I was thinking more in terms of Gattaca.

Re:I'm going to sequence all my neighbors! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39107201)

I re-watched Gattaca again a couple of weeks ago. I remember not thinking much of it when it first came out, but I was much younger then. Highly recommended to those that haven't seen it. Although I want to believe it's a work of science fiction, as time goes on, it seem more likely that everything in the movie will eventually come true (with the exception that NASA gets enough funding to do manned space exploration).

Oh goodie!! (5, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103505)

So when can we expect to see one in every police cruiser, insurance office and personnel department?

Yes, goodie (5, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103521)

So when can we expect to see one in every police cruiser, insurance office and personnel department?

More importantly, we can expect to see one in every doctor's office and hospital, allowing inexpensive personalized medicine.

Re:Yes, goodie (1, Insightful)

Professr3 (670356) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103603)

It wouldn't be just one. They aren't reusable, so it's going to cost $900 per sequencing operation - apparently, you have to throw away the whole device afterwards.

Re:Yes, goodie (5, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103655)

It wouldn't be just one. They aren't reusable, so it's going to cost $900 per sequencing operation - apparently, you have to throw away the whole device afterwards.

It currently costs around $30,000 per sequencing operation [singularityhub.com]. So I'm okay with this first-generation model only reducing the price by more than 300:1.

Re:Yes, goodie (4, Interesting)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103681)

And even with this device, the article says:

During interviews just proceeding the product announcement at AGBT 2012, Clive Brown, the Chief Technology Officer of Oxford Nanopores, revealed that the expected $900 price tag for the MinION has a good bit of margin built in. We can thus expect prices to fall quickly as production becomes routine in its challenges.

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103935)

It would be nice if they figured out what they planned on sequencing. TFS thinks protein, TFA says DNA. I'm inclined to go with the atter since sequencing protiens isnt all that entertaining.

But this doesn't really change things. You can't just drop some blood into this device and get a useable result - you have to purify the sample and know what you purified. It's not set up to do SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism analysis - which is what current forensic 'DNA sequencing really is). They don't talk much about the most important part - the software. A couple hundred thousand base pairs in a row is awfully hard to interpret.

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104303)

if it really does deliver a bunch of base pairs in a row, can't you just match on the flanking sequences on dbSNP or whatever?

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104555)

...sequencing protiens isnt all that entertaining.

It's not that protein sequences aren't useful/entertaining, it's just that sequencing proteins directly is vastly more difficult than sequencing "DNA" (and typically sequencing the DNA gives you the protein sequence anyway).

...you have to purify the sample and know what you purified....A couple hundred thousand base pairs in a row is awfully hard to interpret.

You definitely need good software. And if you're assembling a genome from scratch then having a pure sample is very important. But there are plenty of applications where you're just matching your sequence fragments to reference genomes so sample purity isn't a huge issue.

And the future here is really exciting. Image you feel like you're getting sick so you pull up to something like a McDonald's drive-through, pay your $15, but then instead of getting a burger and fries, you cough into a tube, and a few hours later you get a text message telling you what you're sick with - right down to the genome sequence.

High throughput sequencing is going to do to the medical establishment what FedEx did to the US post office. There was a time where if you walked into the post office and asked for a letter to be reliably delivered next day, they would tell you that you were not just arrogant for expecting such a thing but downright crazy. Currently, if you walk into a hospital and expect to be treated right away (i.e. not sit around in the waiting room for hours and hours waiting for the godlike MD to spare you a minute of his time), you'll get the same response. But high throughput sequencing is going to show that getting a medical diagnosis can be as easy as ordering a burger at a McDonald's drive through.

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105071)

I'm inclined to go with the atter since sequencing protiens isnt all that entertaining.

Protein sequencing is just as important as DNA sequencing. You can learn things from each technique that you can't learn from the other. Sequencing is rarely entertaining in either case. ;)

Re:Yes, goodie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39120217)

Unfortunately this device does NOT sequence proteins. That is written incorrectly in the article. It can be used to DETECT proteins, or it can be used to sequence DNA. But, no protein sequencing. The DNA sequencing relies on some kind of proprietary ratcheting enzyme that pulls the DNA strand through the nanopore, but with proteins they just have a binding site in the nanopore for simple on/off analysis.

I just about peed my pants when I read the above claim of high-throughput protein sequencing, but alas it does no such thing!

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104139)

Actually, it looks like this would be about the same price, since each device only sequences 100 million base pairs before you dispose of it. Normal human DNA consists of ~3.2 billion base pairs.

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

Twisted64 (837490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104239)

Ah, that's just over 30:1, not 300:1.

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104287)

Nope, about 1:1. You need 32 devices, at least, to sequence a whole human genome. Each device can sequence 100 million base pairs (out of 3.2 billion base pairs in a normal human genome).

Re:Yes, goodie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104333)

It currently costs around $30,000 per sequencing operation [singularityhub.com]. So I'm okay with this first-generation model only reducing the price by more than 300:1.

Well, it depends how much coverage you want but BGI will do a human genome for a few thousand - and, for serious researchers, they'll even do it for free if they get their name on the paper.

Re:Yes, goodie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104909)

30 to 1.

Re:Yes, goodie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39106955)

Don't you mean 30 to 1 ie One 30th of 30 000 is around 1000 near to 900?

Re:Yes, goodie (3, Informative)

Rutulian (171771) | about 2 years ago | (#39107271)

Errr...that's $30k per genome (human-sized), not per sequencing operation. The device advertised does not do genomes.

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#39107735)

We are going to need some new laws. There is little anyone can do to prevent their DNA getting left all over the place anywhere they go, and in the future grabbing and sequencing it is going to be so cheap any interested party will be able to.

Re:Yes, goodie (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39103697)

Still cheaper than a Mac. (ducks)

Re:Yes, goodie (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39103823)

And with a 4% error rate, it is still more accurate than the official calculator program that Apple ships with OS X.

Your source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39114975)

That seems a rather ridiculous claim. I tend to use PCalc instead, but I've never seen the regular calculator app do anything screwy in a decade of use. The calculator widget on the other hand, 4% may be too low!

I'm on a Mac, and I found that funny. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39114857)

Don't duck my friend. (Besides, we Mac users are more the back stabbing sort - ducking wouldn't help.)

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104231)

It wouldn't be just one. They aren't reusable, so it's going to cost $900 per sequencing operation - apparently, you have to throw away the whole device afterwards.

Isn't $900 close to the amount of money a GP charges the insurance company for an hour anyway?

Re:Yes, goodie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39109481)

Compared to a typical criminal background check cost of $30 - $100, I can see HR looking into this. I doubt it much matters what their predictive power might be if you had vendors promising potential savings in terms of leave and medical benefits that would not need to be paid. "Candidate A is likely to develop breast cancer." "Candidate B has a higher than average chance of having a child with sickle cell anemia."

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

GNious (953874) | about 2 years ago | (#39111125)

If it was 900 EUR for the device, and it was very reusable, I'd almost offer to buy my doctor one.

Is still a very good price, though.

Re:Yes, goodie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39103715)

Inexpensive personalized medicine? You're joking, right? If anything, this will RAISE costs due to all the "labor" involved in making medicine personalized for you.

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103781)

I think he means personalized medicine that is inexpensive compared to the current cost of personalized medicine (i.e. totally infeasible).

Re:Yes, goodie (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103991)

Me thinks you misapprehend the meaning of personalized... The "personalized" part comes from having unique prescriptions tuned to your specific genetic make-up. The entire process would be automated, and the only personalized part would be a doctor to provide the needed oversight to ensure there were no clerical errors in submitting your DNA to the prescription process.

This would save Doctors unprecedented amounts of time and effort in generating tremendously better diagnoses.This would prevent untold amounts of pain and suffering from unwanted side effects. This would tremendously reduce the chances for malpractice litigation and medical complications due to said side effects. This would allow the poor to have access to high quality, low cost mass medicine. You get scanned at birth, you're monitored from cradle to grave for problems for which you're prone, and the entire society benefits from healthier, happier people.

Of course, there are plenty of distopian possibilities as well... seen GATACA? We just need to make certain that we invent a whole new raft of privacy laws that protect free speech, the freedom of genetic diversity, and right to one's own genome not being used to segregate, subjugate or in any way marginalize a person.

Welcome to the brave new world, if your butt isn't just a little puckered, you're just not paying attention.

Re:Yes, goodie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39106425)

Even if you make it illegal, it will still happen.

the genome belongs to the species, not you (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | about 2 years ago | (#39107555)

Of course, there are plenty of distopian possibilities as well... seen GATACA? We just need to make certain that we invent a whole new raft of privacy laws that protect free speech, the freedom of genetic diversity, and right to one's own genome not being used to segregate, subjugate or in any way marginalize a person.

Welcome to the brave new world, if your butt isn't just a little puckered, you're just not paying attention.

Whaaat? Your genome doesn't belong to you, dude. You are, at best, a transitory tenant in a house whose foundations were laid three and a half billion years ago. The genome, if it can be said to belong to anyone, belongs to the species, not to any particular instantiation of the phenotype. GATTACA was indeed a pretty bleak glimpse of the future, but only from the perspective of the poor sod who had the bad luck to be born before all the inferior DNA was screened away. Certainly, the film focused on that individual, but the flip side to GATTACA is a species that is almost completely free of disease and strife, and one that is taking its DNA to another planet. I think you may have lost sight of the fact that reproductive success via preferential selection is *why* you and I are at the top of the food chain on this planet. I would think the logical next step would be to encourage prospective parents to submit themselves to DNA screening, and not the legislation you suggest which, from the perspective of the species, would serve only to protect an individual organisms's right to bear defective off-spring. The selective pressures that produced our species were pretty much not under our control -- with this technology, we can sidestep those selective pressures and substitute our own. Why would you legislate to constrain our ability to control our own evolution?

Re:Yes, goodie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39103953)

FTFY:
 
 

More importantly, we can expect to see one in every insurance agent's office, allowing expensive medical issues to be declared "a pre-existing condition" fifty years in advance.

Inexpensive? (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 2 years ago | (#39107543)

Medicine never got cheaper just because the tools to practice it lowered in price. People in the supply chain and the doctors either made more profit, or used more and other expensive things added to the cheap technology, because there were now funds for it. Usually both, resulting in a higher bill for the person being treated, or their insurance company. By the way, there's nothing wrong with co-pay, if there is a chemically identical but cheaper medicine available from a competing manufacturer. If there's a patent on the medication that's subscribed that makes it too expensive, the insurance should just pay for it, or fight the patent. If certain doctors that have no better results than others subscribe more expensive medication, insurance companies usually have ways to deal with them here in the Netherlands, so that shouldn't be an issue.

Re:Oh goodie!! (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103867)

Darth Vader: Obi-wan never told you what happened to your father.

Luke: He told me enough. He told me you betrayed and called him!

Darth Vader: No Luke. I AM YOUR FATHER!!!

Luke: Yeah, um, okay. Just hold on, I'm gonna get my notebook here and DNA sequencer. Crap! Forgot the cable. Listen, you're a cyborg, you wouldn't happen to have a USB-A cable on you, would you? Oh yeah, and I think you've got one actual arm left, so could you take the glove off and give me a blood sample?

Re:Oh goodie!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39246753)

Luke: He told me enough. He told me you betrayed and called him!

Called him what? Come on, don't leave me in suspense.

Re:Oh goodie!! (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104937)

I don't know, but the government is trying to get the power to spy on everything you do online or on phones RIGHT NOW. Lets worry about 1984 happening today, and deal with their attempts at GATTACA when it comes to it.

br0ken eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39103543)

Sheldon: [gasps] I possess the DNA of Leonard Nimoy?!

new fashion incoming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39103605)

time to shave my head... scratch that, time to shave my anything

Gattaca (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39103633)

The day is here when people can be discriminated against by the color of their DNA!

We must protest this by burning down all of the Oxford Nanopore buildings! In fact, we should burn down every building associated with scientific development!

It's the only way that we can be sure that we will still be able to discriminate for reasons related to the color of our skin, not the color of our DNA. I mean, do you really want to be disqualified from a job because you have a defective heart, or a genetic propensity for cancer, or weak bones and muscles, or you have a low IQ and will never have the intellectual power needed to perform your job?

Will the United States Army start recruiting the best and the brightest?

High error rate (3, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103663)

The technology has a 4% error rate, meaning that 4% of the bases are read incorrectly

Needs to drop an order of magnitude to be competitive, unless it's much cheaper than expected.

Re:High error rate (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103941)

Well, as others have pointed out, they're already reducing the cost of DNA squencing by 300:1 at their starting price (which is expected to fall). If accuracy is important for your use case (it doesn't necessarily need to be for every single one you know) just run samples 3x and you'd still be cutting costs by 100:1 and your error rate would be .001%.

Re:High error rate (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104005)

I don't think you understand how DNA sequencing works.

Re:High error rate (5, Insightful)

the gnat (153162) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104031)

All of the "next-generation" sequencing technology has a relatively high error rate compared to traditional Sanger sequencing (used on the original human genome sequences, and still the gold standard for truly novel genomes). The massive redundancy typically compensates for this, although some technology is clearly pretty marginal no matter how much data you have. If my memory is accurate, the Human Genome Project was collecting somewhere between 6x and 10x redundant data; projects using the newer tech shoot for more like 30x.

What I don't get is what this device is intended to be useful for if it's only able to sequence 150 million b.p. before wearing out. The article mentions that this is smaller than some human chromosomes, but unless they factored the necessary redundancy into that figure, it's not going to go very far. It'll be enough to sequence most bacterial genomes, and probably enough to sequence human cellular RNA transcripts, or something else targeted, but I just can't see it being useful for whole-genome analysis of the sort that tries to answer deep questions like "am I likely to get Alzheimers in twenty years?"

Re:High error rate (1)

ianbean (525407) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104493)

They have a rack-mounted system that runs samples (or aliquots of the same sample) in parallel. They claim 20 of these could do a human genome in 15 minutes. So, big system for genomes, little USB system for fieldwork and smaller target sizes.

Re:High error rate (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105335)

Perhaps their initial market is limited to biologists working on smaller genomes. But it did leave me wondering, if I just sneezed onto the thing, what would it sequence? There are millions of different microbes on and in each of us. Is there a way to target human DNA specifically? (Or nonhuman, e.g. "what strain of cold do I have?) Then, is there a way to sequence specific portions of a genome? (E.g. the portion(s) pertinent to Alzheimer's)?

Re:High error rate (1)

Guppy (12314) | about 2 years ago | (#39107333)

What I don't get is what this device is intended to be useful for if it's only able to sequence 150 million b.p. before wearing out. The article mentions that this is smaller than some human chromosomes, but unless they factored the necessary redundancy into that figure, it's not going to go very far.

Seeing as how this device uses a protein-based pore complex, I'm not surprised by the limited lifespan. Apparently, they offer a large array of pores to get the ensemble of fragments needed to assemble a complete sequence.

It's a IRIX system! I know this! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104055)

The technology has a 4% error rate, meaning that 4% of the bases are read incorrectly

Brundlefly likes those odds!

Re:High error rate (1)

rodarson2k (1122767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104309)

That depends on your sequencing depth. Do i really care if you get each individual position wrong 4% of the time when you give me 5000 base calls for that position? There might be 200 A+T+Gs, but the 4800 Cs are going to make it pretty obvious what's really going on there.

Re:High error rate (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104601)

With software mapping the human genome 100%, 4% error should be more than sufficient. Why? Because error correction would identify errors and correct them to expected results.

Re:High error rate (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105217)

Needs to drop an order of magnitude to be competitive, unless it's much cheaper than expected.

DNAcat is coming soon.

Re:High error rate (1)

Adriax (746043) | about 2 years ago | (#39106655)

Well, a DNA scanner you just swipe over someone's arm will be nice, but requiring a PS/2 connector will kill it for laptops and the bandwidth of it emulating a keyboard typing out the GATC sequence will be atrocious...

Get one for just $100! * (4, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103683)

<reallysmallprint> * special discount rate available when results are analyzed and stored by AllYourGenome.com. Terms and conditions apply. Please read our privacy and data-marketing agreement before clicking "Submit".</reallysmallprint>

Re:Get one for just $100! * (1)

ben_kelley (234423) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105123)

<hidden>This result shared with: Friends of friends. Click here to change the privacy settings for this application.</hidden>

6 hour analysis time/limited portability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39103801)

I found the most interesting aspect of this which will limit the portability of the unit is the 6 hour analysis time.

I presume that the analysis will require the PC it is plugged into to have its processor running at full speed with all options enabled. When coupled with the 6 hour analysis time, this will exceed the battery life of any laptop out there which means that it is not as portable as implied in the press release/article.

By saying this, I'm not trying to dimish how remarkable this device and the breakthroughs that lead to it are. This really starts to bring personalized medicine within reach of just about anybody and will allow for in the field sequencing which was only once a dream.

Great job to the engineers and scientists at Oxford Nanopore!

myke

Woot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39103817)

So that means I can now sequence the DNA of the semen dripping from my ass after an Apple User Group meetup at the local Cupertino gay bathhouse? Woot!

-Sent from my iFag device.

Booring... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103921)

That's like the time I bought my first DVD-ROM drive. It was cool, but things got much better after buying my first DVD-RW drive. Muhehehe... :]

DNA is not a protein (1)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103963)

The press release says it's a DNA sequencer, not a protein sequencer. I'm sure they're working on a way to sequence proteins using a similar principle, but that's not what they're claiming to come out with in the next 6-9 months.

Re:DNA is not a protein (1)

eparker05 (1738842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104373)

The article and slashdot story claim that the chip can sequence proteins. The video I linked to below shows that their chip 'analyzes' proteins by reading specialized aptamers for recognition (aptamers are a bit like a small nucleotide based antibody; they can bind to target molecules with high specificity).

While this is potentially very useful in many fields, not the least of which is medical, it is not the claimed disruptive sequencing technology. The method proposed by ON requires a great deal of forethought and design; it would only work on well characterized proteins that have been isolated with enough purity for aptamers to be developed.

http://vimeo.com/36909115 [vimeo.com]

Re:DNA is not a protein (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104979)

No, this chip can do protein sensing, not protein sequencing.

You contradict yourself here : what would be the point of sequencing a protein if "a great deal of forethought and design" are required ?
"it would only work on well characterized proteins"
I mean, the first this we do to characterize a protein is getting its sequence. Then, theres the folding research,the partners research (and much more) but the first step is always sequencing.
So if sequencing a protein required prior sequencing, it wouldn't be very helpful, would it ?

On the other hand, sensing protein has tons of applications, it makes more sense.

Re:DNA is not a protein (1)

eparker05 (1738842) | about 2 years ago | (#39107077)

Perhaps you didn't read my post.

Also, to the best of my knowledge, a target protein would not need to be crystallized in order for an aptamer to be developed. I'm pretty sure they just screen the proteins against a large aptamer library and then sequence the bound aptamers to see what worked. I'm a little fuzzy on this, so somebody correct me if I got that last part wrong.

Moore's Law and Corollaries...Coming to an FBI Off (1)

someWebGeek (2566673) | more than 2 years ago | (#39103997)

Once it's in round three or four of evolution and the price drops through the floor for the entire process, expect an invitation to trot down to your friendly, neighborhood, federal building, county courthouse, city police precinct, etc. to give a blood sample for, um, voter registration purposes.

"Trouble? I call it sport."

Way-y-y too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104151)

This isn't practical for whole human genome sequencing, but could be practical for sequencing of PCR-amplified segments. To wit: at $900 for 100 Mbp of data, it would cost ~$60K for merely 1X coverage of a complete, diploid human genome (6 Gbp). For decent quality and continuity of the entire genome, at least 3X and more appropriately 10X coverage is needed--that's ~$600K.

Re:Way-y-y too expensive (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104235)

I know you think that your post made you sound smart, but some of us would appreciate it if you would stop making up nonsense.

"By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them."
Matthew 7:16-20

Re:Way-y-y too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104967)

To idiots and the ignorant, nothing makes sense.

Re:Way-y-y too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105085)

You know what's nonsense: a description on /. that says it's a "protein sequencer" when it's actually a DNA sequencer. How do errors like that make it onto a major website? It suggests /. is an inappropriate venue for such material, because the editors don't know jack about biotech, and that the vast majority of the comments are going to be crap, which I can confirm.

Hooray for field biologists! (and DNA paparazzi?) (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104407)

You know, I would imagine every field biologist (and people like me who wish they were one ;) would love these things once they get just a bit cheaper.

How cool would it be to find some plant or little creature and say, what is that? (Big animals it might not be safe to get a sample from!). Maybe if the results went to some central repository like 'The Encyclopedia of Life", it could really help biological studies (not necessarily by finding undiscovered species but helping to determine the range of existing ones. Also genetic drift and, gasp, evolution!)

Of course, if it's that good and cheap, there is all sorts of mischief that could be played. Want to embarrass someone who may have illegitimate children? (I read somewhere that in a little british village, they found 1/4 of the children didn't have the fathers they thought they did). Get a lock of hair from parent and child (maybe a fingerprint would do). Want to see if your favorite celebrity/politician was susceptible to alcoholism? I'm sure the new DNA paparazi will find out.

It'll be interesting to see what new privacy laws come out of this.

Re:Hooray for field biologists! (and DNA paparazzi (1)

psydeshow (154300) | about 2 years ago | (#39114231)

How cool would it be to find some plant or little creature and say, what is that?

Or to buy a hamburger at McDonald's and be able to say, "Hey, this doesn't have any cow in it at all! It's all soy protein!"

Seriously, every year one of the expensive private schools in NYC sends a class out into high-end restaurants and grocery stores to buy samples, which are then tested to see if they are really made from what they claim to be made from. Not surprisingly, much of the sushi they bought one year was not the fish it claimed to be.

To paraphrase from "Dog Day Afternoon" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104439)

GATTACA! GATTACA! GATTACA!

Flu (1)

ViperOrel (1286864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104577)

I am soooo coughing on one of these the next time I get the flu. This will make it so easy to identify which strains to mix for uber results.

GIAA (1)

hercubus (755805) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104679)

Dear Doctor Amy Farrah Fowler,

The Genetics Industry Association of America (GIAA) understands you have been using a "genetic sequencer" device to decode genetic sequences that members of our association own as their intellectual property.

We are reminding you that your activities are strictly prohibited as you do not have a license for the sequences in question. We therefore require you to CEASE AND DESIST all such activities and destroy all devices you have been using to illegally decode other's intellectual property.

Attached please find an invoice for 30 million US dollars for fines, damages, legal fees, etcetera.

Most sincerely,

THE GENETICS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERIKA (GIAA)

Re:GIAA (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105013)

Don't forget the request to destroy all samples of the intellectual property in question. I guess cremation would be the most effective way...

"disruptive" (1)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104825)

You don't know something is disruptive before it comes out. It's disruptive when it comes out and actually disrupts.

A bit confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39104871)

Please don't mistake protein sequencing and DNA sequencing as equivalents.

This MinION is designed to do DNA sequencing and protein sensing, which is not quite as interesting, since most people doing DNA sequencing are used to have access to high output sequencers, which are faster and reusable.
Besides, this item only managed to read a DNA strand of 48500 bp (for reference, human genome has around 6 billion) so it won't be of much use for humans.

About the price :
http://www.genome.gov/sequencingcosts/ [genome.gov]
gives us a cost per raw megabase of 0.1$
so I don't see why I would like to pay 900$ for something that cant even squence one million base...

Let's wait and see.

Re:A bit confused... (1)

ianbean (525407) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104969)

The MinIon does 150Mbp per hour for six hours, so about 900 megabases. And anyone who works with DNA sequencing knows that 50kb reads are unbelievably fantastic. If it works that alone will change the way genomics is done.

I see this going badly (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39104989)

Joe Bloggs posts some of his DNA on his blog. Big pharmacy corp sues Joe Bloggs into oblivion because they have a patent on the gene he posted. Even though he pulled it out of his own DNA...

'Oxford Nanopore megaton announcement' (1)

RDW (41497) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105011)

For some commentary with a bit more substance than 'gizmag', see:

http://pathogenomics.bham.ac.uk/blog/2012/02/oxford-nanopore-megaton-announcement-why-do-you-need-a-machine-exclusive-interview-for-this-blog/ [bham.ac.uk]

e.g:

'Why a USB stick? "The form factor is determined by the requirements" - as there are no fluidics you don't need a big machine. There are no fluidics. "Your fluidics is a Gilson [pipette]", said [Oxford Nanopore CTO] Brown. The prototype version has an ugly battery pack attached to it but it will eventually use USB power. The USB stick is disposable. "Why do you need an instrument?" he says. We wander into the realms of sci-fi at this point. DNA molecules pass through the nanopore and nucleotide sequence is detected by the electronics. Bases are streamed - live - to your laptop as FASTQ (bases with qualities). This is where the "run until" makes sense, if you are interested in a particular gene just wait until the sequence comes out and shut it down to preserve the circuitry."

tl;dr?:

- This technology has enormous potential and looks like it could fundamentally change the way sequencing is used. Features like the long read length and lack of infrastructure required are hugely attractive.

- It isn't going to make genomes dramatically cheaper initially, promising only to be 'competitive' with existing technology (which is already down to the $3000-$5000 range per genome, and quite possibly $1000 by next year).

Re:'Oxford Nanopore megaton announcement' (1)

RDW (41497) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105785)

...and for balance, here's a slightly more sceptical take on the announcement:

http://www.omespeak.com/blog/?p=507 [omespeak.com]

'Until ONT demonstrates actual sequencing of a more complicated genome (a microbial one at minimum), there will be a healthy degree of skepticism,'

See also:

http://omicsomics.blogspot.com/2012/02/oxford-nanopore-doesnt-disappoint.html [blogspot.com]

'So, Oxford has unveiled an amazing pair of sequencers. Not one which completely clears the field of everyone else, but one which will offer a host of new opportunities for genomics. Now it is up to Oxford to deliver the instruments to the field, and for Oxford and its early access sites to start pumping out data for all to evaluate. '

and:

http://www.bio-itworld.com/news/02/17/12/Oxford-strikes-first-in-DNA-sequencing-nanopore-wars.html [bio-itworld.com]

'...he nanopore war is about to start.'

DNA not protein, please (1)

methano (519830) | about 2 years ago | (#39106319)

I noticed the error in the original post and looked and saw that coldwetdog had mentioned it around 5 PM EST. I'm looking at 9:45 pm EST and see that it hasn't been fixed yet. DNA != protein. And vice versa.

Protein vs DNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39106391)

Protein sequencing and DNA sequencing are two very different things.

CSI to be finally (chortle) accurate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39110463)

You mean we can have DNA scanners at our desks that churn out reports like printer speeds in 90's Hollywood movies?

Pirate Gene Testing (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#39110757)

Another step closer to being able to do pirate gene testing. Right now if you, say, wanted to have your DNA checked for a predisposition to breast cancer (oh and you have boobies in this hypothetical situation, follow along - j/k, men can get it too), the testing lab would have to pay exorbitant licensing fees to the company that has the patent on the fact that those genes are linked to breast cancer (I shit you not) or if caught running these tests, they would have their asses sued off.

But with this device (from what I understand - maybe it's not that capable yet), you could download a testing app from a file sharing site and do your own illegal test in the privacy of your own home.

One step closer to that. Oh, and also Gattaca, rated by NASA as the most realistic sci-fi movie :-(

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