"With Oxford Nanopore's Technology, it may well be possible to sequence a genome for less than $100". This is was what Graham Richards said when he gave a talk here in Cambridge last October. He should know: He founded the Technology Transfer office in Oxford, which has been involved in Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) from the start. He thinks that the company could be the first billion-pound business to be spun out from Oxford University. A recent valuation is already coming close with $1bn.
So far, ONT has not exactly been open about the specifics of its sequencing technology. This is likely to change very soon. On February 15th, the annual Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) kicks off in Florida, and ONT is expected to make an announcement. A press release on ONT's website promises first sequencing data and a demonstration of "disruptive features".
ONT is working on two types on nanopore sequencing technology at the same time. In both cases, nucleotides are electronically identified as they pass through a protein nanopore. The difference between the two technologies is that in strand sequencing, the whole DNA molecule passes through the nanopore, whilst in exonuclease sequencing, an enzyme located in front of the nanopore cleaves nucleotides off the DNA one by one, which then pass through the nanopore individually.
The technology presented at the AGBT conference will be strand sequencing. It is unclear what the status of the exonuclease sequencing is, and whether ONT plans to take it forward.
Any guesses what we can expect from Oxford Nanopore at AGBT, and in the next few months?