Oxford Nanopore Announces New Sequencing System, Certification Program

March 15, 2017

By Bio-IT World Staff

March 15, 2017 | Oxford Nanopore announced the launch of the GridION X5 today, a new system that can drive up to five MinION Flow Cells and process all the data produced within a single benchtop device. In a webcast, Clive Brown, Oxford’s Chief Technology Officer, said that the GridION adapts MinION technology into a small benchtop production sequencer with the advantage of full on-board compute capable of generating 100GB of data over 48 hours.

The sequencing portion of the device comprises five flow cells mounted to maintain temperature during a run. The flow cells can be used individually or in concert, and are connected to the compute via USB. As with all nanopore sequencing there is no fixed run time.

The GridION X5 compute will “control up to five flow cells” and perform real-time base calling for up to 1000 b/s for 5 flow cells. It includes a “latest generation” CPU; 8 TB of SSD storage; FPGA co-processor; and Linux operating system.

The GridION X5 systems are available for purchase now, and should start shipping in May at the latest. The desktop-sized sequencing system will be offered under two price models: systems can be purchased for $125,000 with flow cells costing $299, or a system can be acquired for no initial investment and a commitment of 300 flow cells at $475 per flow cell plus an additional $15,000 support fee.

MinION Flow Cells have been improving over the past year with updates including the R9.4 nanopore and new MinKNOW 1.4 software. Oxford Nanopore has reported yields of more than 20Gb from single MinION Flow Cell in internal experiments and customers have reported 10Gb. The company used both numbers when calculating cost, arriving at a value between $47 and $14.95 per Gb, depending on yield and model.

Brown also announced a certification program by which groups can be certified to offer GridION X5 nanopore sequencing as a service. MinION is a personal sequencer, not licensed as a service product, Brown said. GridION X5, however, can be used to offer nanopore sequencing at scale. Users wishing to offer GridION X5 as a service will be able to earn Certification as a Nanopore Service Provider. Details are few now, but for an annual certification fee, service providers will receive dedicated training and validation ensuring potential customers “that centers are able to operate the technology sufficiently well to provide a service,” said a company representative.

GridION X5 fills a gap between MinION and PromethION, the company said. MinION has realized a 40-fold improvement since its first introduction and data processing requirements at the newest high throughputs are now beginning to challenge the average PC, the company said. PromethION remains a high capacity, on-demand sequencer suitable for users with larger projects or who wish to process large numbers of samples. The company plans to release PromethION flow cells designed to yield up to six times the Gb of a MinION Flow Cell, so that the entire PromethION can yield Terabases of data.