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DNA Sequencing: From really fast to really small

The rate at which Next Gen Systems have impacted the speed and costs of DNA sequencing has been astonishing over the last decade or so. Now there is a focus on dramatically shrinking instruments in size that may fundamentally affect how and where sequencing can be done. John Boyce first introduced the GNU Bio sequencer as the “K” cup for sequencing; a bench-top model that would be as easy to use as making a cup of coffee. The idea of being able to do DNA sequencing in every medical lab was appealing enough for Biorad to quickly acquire them. Similarly Life Technologies acquired Ion Torrent who designed a similarly simple to use and small system.

Now the goals is to design even smaller systems that could potentially be hand-held. And Pathologists, not genome scientists are the target customers with an ever expanding appetite for molecular data in cancer, infection diseases and other areas. Products currently in the space include Cepheid’s GeneXpert and Iquum (Roche) Liat™ Analyzer, as examples. But there are others to keep an eye out for in this exciting field. Companies to watch include:

Oxford Nanopore with their pocket sized minion.

Genia Technologies (now part of Roche) with a nanopore-based platform allows for single molecule, electrical, real-time analysis for clinical sequencing applications.

QuantuMDx and their handheld DNA analyzer that will provide an accurate molecular diagnostic result in 10-15 minutes.

Insilixa, currently in stealth mode, building the next generation of high-performance CMOS biochips for microarray technology, qPCR, and DNA sequencing.

Ubiquitome’s first product, Freedom 4 is a field based real time PCR platform.

DNA Electronics Ltd – DNA Electronics Ltd that does PCR (for speed) and sequencing (for content) on the same chip in the same analysis, to arrive at a fast, accurate and informative diagnosis.

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