Science Interviews


Sat, 12th May 2012

"USB" gene sequencer

Nell Barrie

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Kat -  And another story that hit the headlines, the USB-sized gene sequencer.  And I think people just went nuts for this.  Did you see this one?  

Nell -  I think it's one of those ones when you look at the picture, and just go, "Oh my god, it's amazing. It plugs into your computer."  And then…  

Kat -  The future is here.  

Nell -  Yeah.  And then you think actually what would I personally do with it, I can't do anything with that.  

Kat -  I’d sequence anything!  

Nell -  But one point they made as part of the story was, you know, yeah, you get all this data out of it but then what you do with it?  You've got your USB plug in but you might also need a supercomputer to go with it to analyze all the stuff that you've got.  That might be bit more expensive than the sequencer itself.  

Kat -  Yeah.  What's interesting is that it's called I think GridION technology, works at a different way to normal sequencers.  And that there's basically all nanopores that are full of tiny holes.  And the DNA gets pulled through it like pulling a necklace through a hole.  And each nucleotide, each letter of the DNA gives out a slightly different electrical signal and they monitor those.  So those were going, pop-pop-pop-pop, ACTG, whatever.  That's what they say.  Though there is quite a lot of controversy about how accurate it is.



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