Oxford Nanopore technologies and pricing plans revealed

18 May 2015

UK-based DNA sequencing company Oxford Nanopore has showcased new nanopore sequencing technologies in development.

The new technologies previewed at the company’s London Calling event were a new version of MinION to be released in 2016, the promethION, and an automated sample preparation system called Voltrax. Reporters were not allowed to attend at the company-organised meeting on Thursday, but Oxford Nanopore tweeted about the updates from the conference.

Two years ago the company launched the MinION device, a low throughput sequencer and the first portable device to perform rapid DNA sequencing in real time. Last week’s event saw the company showcase their new technologies in the pipeline, such as the Voltrax, an automated sample preparation, which aim is to help Oxford Nanopore reach the goal of getting sample preparation down to 10 minutes. Available later this year, the portable palm sized device is designed to take a biological sample as an input and convert it into a library for use in nanopore-sensing applications, such as DNA, RNA and protein sequencing.

The conference saw a prototype of PromethION, a benchtop instrument that will offer higher throughput than the MinION device; PromethION will be launched later this year via a restricted early-access programme for selected experts, similar to that used for the MinION.

There was also news on the ASIC – application specific integrated circuit – that processes the nanopore signal and forms a key part of the MinION and PromethION devices. Delegates heard that the upgraded ASIC has 3000 channels, allowing it to read 1000 bases per second; the current version has just 512. In addition, Oxford Nanopore announced that they have separated the nanopore sensing membrane, which carries the nanopore chemistry, from the ASIC, which will permit better control of the two and allow reuse of the ASIC. The new chip will be part of the new MinION MKII device to be released in 2016 and of the promethION. 

Translocation speed of the DNA through the nanopores has reportedly been increased, although the impact of the increased speed on the quality of the sequence data is not immediately clear. 

Pricing plans were a big topic, with a new ‘pay-as-you go’ structure announced. Under the pricing scheme, using the MinION MkII will cost US$20 for the first hour with a data output of about 5 Gigabases (Gb). The MinION Access Program (MAP) will continue as the means by which Oxford Nanopore is making its products commercially available for the time being.

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