Decode DNA in seconds with MINion USB

When computing and science come together, new revolutionary and innovative devices are the outcome. If you’re a genetic researcher then this $900 USB device is just about one of the greatest things invented. The device is named MINion and serves as a DNA decoder but despite potentially being a revolutionary form of genetic data gathering, it is frowned upon by people outside the research profession.

We’re not genetic researchers, so we won't pretend to know exactly how this dongle works, but it starts by extracting a strand of DNA through a razor-like nanotube which then splits the double helix. The nucleotide bases are then electrocuted one by one until they give up their code. The resulting sequence is stored like a ticker-tape readout, for the whole world to see. In other words; it breaks down the DNA to a point where the code can easily be extracted and then it is shared through a network. 

The MinION does these tasks within seconds and as implied; it’s portable and simply plugs into a laptop. It currently works on very very short genomes, like those belonging viruses and bacteria. We’re all safe from being decrypted, for now.

Image Source: Nanoporetech

 

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Reminder: How to dump Gmail and move to Hotmail

Next Story

Guide to smartphone hardware (2/7): Graphics

9 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

wired.co.uk has some decent info http://goo.gl/MavWh

Long story short, if you've had, have, or heard of reverse osmosis water filters, it's [oversimplified] the same basic idea... they've figured out how to make a membrane with pores that fit or trap single molecules of DNA [reverse osmosis filters work by having pores that only let pure water through, so the DNA is trapped the same way impurities in the water would be]. Once trapped, they can detect the 4 amino acids, determine their combination etc.

Like any tech of course there's potential for good & bad... If you've got a virus, knowing which one could save your life. Knowing how the virus you got had mutated from other strains might in a worst case scenario save your neighborhood. Knowing you have a genetic predisposition to an often fatal or fatal illness or condition could save your life -- if you boss finds out about it you might also be fired. It's like the old, over-tired sayings: "..... doesn't kill people -- people kill people". Fill in the blank however you like. After all, no one ever died in an auto accident when all there were was horse drawn buggies & wagons.

So, scientists are against this because of... job security?? LOL I hate this nonsense. Rather than change with the times, these unions and such are slowing down innovation.

Very interesting device. Could even be another security layer.

ps. Just because the government doesn't wish for genetic data gathering to become part of a job interview etc. doesn't mean they are fundamentally against this device in anyway... and there is not even a slight such suggestion in the linked article (which is 5 years old) - presumably because this device hadn't been announced at that point. To be honest I'm not sure how such a connection was even invented.

lt8480 said,
Very interesting device. Could even be another security layer.

ps. Just because the government doesn't wish for genetic data gathering to become part of a job interview etc. doesn't mean they are fundamentally against this device in anyway... and there is not even a slight such suggestion in the linked article (which is 5 years old) - presumably because this device hadn't been announced at that point. To be honest I'm not sure how such a connection was even invented.

gattaca ...