I had a very enjoyable trip to the Science Museum in London this weekend and whilst there was amazed to see an Oxford Nanopore DNA sequencing chip on display.
The word on the street after ONT's AGBT 2012 extravaganza has been more like a quiet grumble about progress, the hype has certainly not been lived up to, now that quiet grumble is beginning to get noisier! Everyone was hoping for their MinION USB sequencer and the Star-Trekesque possibility of truly personal genome sequencing. Although even Jim McCoy didn't have that on his tricorder.
There is not even the tiniest hint of what is being done with academic collaborators, no posters, no papers, no seminars. Now all we can do is ponder on why the technology has not been launched as planned. Surely it was not pure hype to whip up interest in their last round of funding? Perhaps the technology has suffered issues, there is a lot going into what ONT and others are trying to do; hardware, software, enzymes and just about everything else all need to be designed and tested and any one of these could stop the system from working. Legal wrangling is almost certainly an issue with a huge number of patents in this field and companies like Illumina working on their own Nanopore technology.
So here it is: The blurb reads "Oxford Nanopore chip. Tiny pores 10,000 times smaller than a human hair sit in microscopic holes covering the surface of this speedy chip. DNA is read electronically as it zips through each pore, generating DNA sequence data."
|Photo of ONT Nanopore chip in the "Who Am I" gallery at the Science Museum, London.
Sorry the picture and text are so crummy.
I'm sure we'll see the real thing soon, hopefully long before the 23rd century!
PS: The ONT chip is next to an ABI SOLiD instrument. Don't read to much into it being next to a technology that is already obsolete !