Oxford Nanopore Announces Auto Sample Prep, New Chips, Pay-As-You-Go Pricing

May 14, 2015

By Bio-IT World Staff 

May 14, 2015 | Clive Brown’s Oxford Nanopore took over our Twitter feed on Thursday afternoon with news coming out of the London Calling event (#nanoporeconf). Many in attendance (and watching the Twitter feed) called the announcements “game-changing” and likened the atmosphere to Apple’s iPhone announcement in 2007.

Here are some of the highlights we’ve been able to collect so far. We’ll add more details and links as we get them.

Brown, Oxford's CTO, said the goal is to get sample prep down to 10 minutes. To meet that, Oxford announced Voltrax, fully integrated, nanoliter volume, automated sample prep that will be available later this year. The palm-sized device is portable, programmable, and disposable, with 6-12 sample input ports. Brown reported 10-minute sample prep with no more than a swab and 30 minute answer times. Attendees hailed the arrival of true field sequencing.

ASIC--application specific integrated circuit--is the core of both the PromethION and MinION. The current ASIC chip has 512 channels; a new chip will have 3,000. The structure will also change, with ASIC being a separate consumable.  

Brown presented the PromethION, what some called the GridION concept in a box. PromethION, using the new ASIC chip, is a high throughput device made up of a modular system comprising up to 48 flow cell units, designed for 1-192 samples, with integrated base calling. Each chip can handle 4 samples with 3,000 active channels per chip (144,000 channels). Voltrax units can be stacked on top of the PromethION, and PromethION has no fixed run time.

The “fast mode” was very well received. Brown said that users can expect 10x more output per chip, with that number rising to 17x within two months. “Normal mode” reads at 30 bases per second; “fast mode” reads at 500 bases per second. Brown said that speeding up the enzymes actually improves read quality, improving detection of some short-lived events.

Fast mode makes the MinION comparable in throughput and cost to HiSeq. On the PromethION, users can generate 6.4Tb/day with 144,000 channels at 500 bases per second.

In pricing news, Brown announced “pay-as-you-go” sequencing with a “zero-hour” flow cell (though “full flow cells” are still available). For the MinION Mk1 flow cell, the first three hour block to be priced at $270. For the Mk2, available next year using new 3,000-chanel ASIC, prices will start at $20 for the first hour of sequencing.

Other Resources:  

David Eccles' summary of the event on Reddit

Jared Simpson of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research spoke and shared his slides

Keith Robison's storify of Day 2

Nick Loman spoke at the event and shared his slides

NextGenSeek’s storify of Clive Brown’s talk  

Keith Robison’s storify of Day 1, broken into nice sections

Keith Robison at Omics! Omics! blogged his pre-meeting speculation last night 

Our look at the MinION from December for background.