Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hand-Held Genome Sequencer - The Age of the Tricorder is at Hand?

Sequencing the human genome was a task that took major computers and lots of time.  Like all technical advances the process got streamlined and became faster and faster.  Now a company called Oxford Nanopore Technologies is starting trials of its MinION, a miniaturized disposable gene sequencer that will retail for under $1000. 

Though I am not a scientist by a long shot, this excites me greatly.  My dad was a researcher in the field of Microbiology and Hematology and I spent many hours in his lab watching the experiments and actually helping out once I was old enough.  The idea that a hand-held device can do what once took a super-computer astounds me. 

Considering the advances with such medical devices as a pocket sized ultrasound scanner and other miniaturized devices it seems that Dr. McCoy would be right at home.  In fact the X Prize folks have set their sights on exactly that kind of idea.  The latest award will be for a working Tricorder! I often tell my partner, we are living in Star Trek. 

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