This Handheld DNA Sequencer Could Change Scientific Research

By James O Malley on at

Meet "MinION", the brilliantly named handheld DNA sequencer that could revolutionise how science in the field is carried out.

Our pals at TechRadar report that the sequencer marks a breakthrough in miniaturisation: for the first time scientists can sequence DNA while, say, in the middle of a rainforest, rather than have to send samples back to the lab. MinION is essentially a USB dongle that plugs into a laptop.

Even more revelatory is the potential for use in medicine. Apparently the device could, if proven effective after rigorous testing, be used to sequence tumour genomes; that would enable more personalised diagnoses and treatments by doctors.

The only downside is that the miniature device is believed to be slightly less accurate than conventional DNA sequencing machines (which look more like photocopiers). But as a rough field guide, the device could offer more information to scientist and doctors, faster. [TechRadar]