Archive for March 8th, 2012

A USB Memory Stick? No, it’s a genome sequencer!

Thursday, March 8th, 2012 by Roberto Saracco

Several times in this blog I posted news showing the acceleration of the technologies for sequencing the human genome. The target is to arrive by the end of this decade with every one of us (most of us) having in his pocket his genome sequence. To achieve this result the sequencing should become cheaper (down to 100 euros) and faster (like a blood analyses).

A USB Stick for Molecular analyses

This is “just” another one, but it really shows that we are on track. This USB device is able to detect DNA molecules, not sequencing the whole genome but once you plug it in in a laptop and you wire together twenty of them you will be able to sequence a whole human genome in … 15 minutes! That’s amazing.

The device is produced by Oxford Nanopore. They will begin selling this USB sequencer at the end of 2012 at a price of 900$.

Just think of the implications. A machine like this would be able to cut dramatically the price of genome sequencing (may be not down to 100 euros but surely well under 1,000 – you need to factor in the cost of the reagents required). Besides, its speed can make the sequencing a normal procedure. Just remember that the first genome sequencing took 10 years and several billion $.

I can see the time, soon, when we will have our genome in our medical record and drugs being prescribed base on the genome. Plus, proactive medicine will take into account the likelihood of suffering from certain diseases and would let us monitor for early tell tale signs and prompt action.

There will also be, as in any new technology, issues on privacy and potential misuse. Still, it is a new exciting frontier to explore!