Mobile DNA sequencing is starting to happen, and though instruments like Oxford Nanopore's MinION are unlikely to obsolesce the big high power instruments anytime soon, portable sequencing and analysis tools are likely to be very useful, Leila Luheshi writes for the PHG Foundation blog.
The MinION is being used by a few select researchers
spread around the world already, and although they haven't generated any data that has landed in peer-reviewed articles yet, early reports are showing that users are able to read long single molecule sequences, many kilobases in length, she writes.
"These types of tools play a vital role in enabling downstream analysis of sequence data, and are a necessary prelude to the formal publication of the analyzed data itself, which remains hotly anticipated," Luheshi writes.
The mobile sequencing revolution is not here yet, but is "on its way," she says. These tools still are in "the earliest stages of development, with significant throughput, reliability, and accuracy challenges still to be overcome even before they enter mainstream use in research."
It is hard as of yet to predict how mobile sequencing will impact healthcare, Luheshi says, although it seems clear that portable and low-cost DNA sequencing devices could shift genomic medicine out of the big lab and nearer to the patient's bedside. A USB device that plugs into a laptop could be particularly useful for rapid genomic testing outside of large-scale healthcare facilities, particularly in community medical centers or in mobile screening units, she writes.