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Pocket-Sized Devices Enable Real-Time DNA and RNA Sequencing Anywhere

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 05 Jul 2022
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Image: Nanopore devices offer direct analysis of DNA/RNA in-real time (Photo courtesy of Oxford Nanopore)
Image: Nanopore devices offer direct analysis of DNA/RNA in-real time (Photo courtesy of Oxford Nanopore)

DNA and RNA sequencing can answer a range of biological questions, providing information on pathogen identity, genetic disease risk or how an organism has evolved. Now, a new generation of sensing technology uses nanopores - nano-scale holes - embedded in high-tech electronics, to perform precise molecular analyses in fully scalable formats from pocket to population-scale devices. The advantages of real-time sequencing include rapid access to time critical information (e.g. pathogen identification), the generation of early sample insights and more control over the sequencing experiment.

The new generation of DNA/RNA sequencing technology developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies (Oxford, UK) is the only sequencing technology that offers real-time analysis (for rapid insights), in fully scalable formats from pocket to population scale, and can analyze native DNA or RNA and sequence any length of fragment to achieve short to ultra-long read lengths. All Oxford Nanopore sequencing devices use flow cells which contain an array of tiny holes - nanopores - embedded in an electro-resistant membrane. Each nanopore corresponds to its own electrode connected to a channel and sensor chip, which measures the electric current that flows through the nanopore. When a molecule passes through a nanopore, the current is disrupted to produce a characteristic ‘squiggle’. The squiggle is then decoded using basecalling algorithms to determine the DNA or RNA sequence in real time.

Oxford Nanopore has opened up RNA/DNA sequencing to anyone, anywhere in small formats such as Flongle which addresses the need for on-demand, rapid, smaller tests or experiments, and can be used in labs or in the field. Similarly, the pocket-sized MinION is a powerful and portable sequencing device that can deliver high volumes of long read sequence data. On the other hand, the benchtop GridION Mk1 can run up to five MinION Flow Cells at a time, on-demand, for larger genomics projects. In addition, PromethION is the largest format for nanopore sequencing, designed to offer on-demand use of up to 48 Flow Cells – capable of delivering more than 10 Tb of sequence data in a full run, and is now being used in population-scale sequencing projects.

The company has also launched PromethION 2 (P2) solo, a first-in-class handheld, low-cost, ultra-high-throughput DNA sequencing device. Designed to deliver high-output, low-cost sequencing in a palm-sized device and make high-throughput sequencing more accessible, the P2 supports users wishing to discover more, rich biological insights about human disease, including cancer and ultra-long plant and animal genomes or larger transcriptome/metagenomic analyses. The new device can produce as much as 580 Gb sequence data in one run.

Related Links:
Oxford Nanopore Technologies 

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