Oxford MinION at ASHG 2014: Updates on MinION and PromethION

Oxford Nanopore at ASHG 2014

Oxford Nanopore at ASHG 2014

It is almost two years ago at ASHG 2012, Oxford Nanopore showed off Oxford MinION at ASHG 2012. Almost a year ago at ASHG 2013, Oxford Nanopore  let a few selected researchers try out sequencing by MinION.  Oxford Nanopore is back to ASHG this year at San Diego and announced a few updates and formally unveiled its next product Promethion.

In addition to having a booth at vendor show at ASHG 2014, Oxford Nanopore held a scientific party! for anyone interested in products from Oxford Nanopore at ASHG 2014.  ASHG 2014 attendees could attend the event by pre-registering. The theme of the event was “Keep Calm and Carry MinIONs” inspired by the Second World War motivational slogan.

Among many interesting things, it seems Oxford Nanopore is working on improving the nano pore sequencing process and providing a greater control over what to sequence in real time.  Nanopore is still interested in Topoisomerase based library prep. The biggest advantage of topoisomerase based approach allows to easily cut DNA and ligate with adapters easily.

And Oxford Nanopore is working on using beads on the membrane to help nanopore sequencing. Oxford Nanopore is  very excited about this approach, as one can have much control over magnetic beads for sequencing. For example by applying magnetic field one can move the beads in any direction.

Programmable Targetted Nanopore Sequencing

One of the exciting updates from Clive Brown at the meeting is that, Oxford Nanopore is working on coming up programmable-real-time targeted sequencing (no idea what the real name is). For example, if one is interested in sequencing a specific region of genome, not anything else from the sample. Just as the reads go through the pore and getting sequenced, align the sequenced part of a read to find out if it is from the region of interest.  If it is from the region of interest, you let the nanopore finish sequencing the read. If it is not from the region of interest, Nanopore can apply a potential difference to the specific pore so that the pore releases the read and gets ready to sequence the next read. Doesn’t that sound really awesome? Pretty neat idea and will be great if it works. One can think of a variety of scenarios where this will be extremely useful.

Oxford Nanopore PromethION

Oxford Nanopore Unveils PromethION

Oxford Nanopore Unveils PromethION

PromethION is Oxford Nanopore’s next commercial product that is tablet-sized benchtop nanopore instrument. The nanopores are arranged in a modular fashion and Oxford Nanopore calls them Nanopore cassettes. One can run these Nanopore cassettes separately and in parallel together as needed. PromethION contains over 150,ooo pores and the approximate sequencing cost it expects is around 30$ per Gb of data. Guess the pricing plan is just a rough guide and can change. However,  think one can expect a competitive price without the huge burden of instrument cost.

Another theme that Oxford Nanopore seemed to highlight was “Run until”. Check the updated Oxford Nanopore’s website. It  states that

Run until…….
The PromethION™ device is designed to enable users to run an experiment until sufficient data, or data of sufficient quality has been collected to reach a predetermined experimental endpoint. In contrast, other molecular analysis systems have a fixed analysis time, or ‘run time’ that delivers a fixed batch of data at the end of that run. In such cases the user is forced to design the experiment to fit the machine that the analysis is performed on.

Conversely, by making use of the nature of nanopore sensing and rapid electronic measurement, users can instruct the PromethION to monitor their own data output and look for key application-specific results. These results may be used to alter or optimise the behaviour of the instruments in real time, or simply stop them when the experiment is known to have been completed.

Promethion at ASHG 2014

Promethion at ASHG 2014

Oxford Nanopore is also working busily on Metrichor improving its cloud based analytics suite. Obviously, for PromethION, Oxford Nanopore is planning local storage and base calling. The image on the company website has extra box that was not present at ASHG display unit. Presumably that is some kind of computing device.

Another big news about PromethION is that it looks like Oxford Nanopore has expanded its core software from Windows to iOS. Check both the demo units at ASHG 2014 and the PromethION pictures at Oxford Nanopore website shows off iPad as PromethION’s companion. A very good news indeed?

Promethion will be available as part of early access program like MinION in early 2015. PAP this time? :) Exciting times ahead.

There will also be more types on MinIONs, better chemistries with more applications.  BTW, the Oxford Nanopore’s MinION early access program is still open for researchers.  Visit here for more details.

Also it seems Oxford Nanopore has a mystery event scheduled in London in the 2015 summer, aptly titled “London Calling”. Hmm. what could that be?  Fun. fun. fun….

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