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Oxford Nanopore to Launch Early-Access Program for MinIon Sequencer Next Month

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Oxford Nanopore Technologies plans to launch an early-access program for its MinIon sequencer in late November, the company said today.

Under the MinIon Access Program, an undisclosed but "substantial" number of selected participants will receive a MinIon system – consisting of the sequencing USB device, flow cells, and software – for a refundable deposit of $1,000 and shipping costs.

Oxford Nanopore will also provide early-access users with flow cells "sufficient to allow frequent usage of the system" at no cost except shipping, and participants can order addition flow cells for $999 a piece.

In addition, the company will provide users with sequencing preparation kits, although they "may choose to develop their own sample preparation and analysis methods."

Participants will need to agree to a so-called end-user license agreement, under which they will be "invited" to provide feedback on their experience "through channels provided by the company," required to return all used flow cells to Oxford Nanopore, receive training and support through an online community and portal, and go through an "initial restricted 'burn-in' period," during which they will run test samples and share the data with the company.

Only after achieving "consistent and satisfactory performance" with the test samples will participants be allowed to run their own samples. They will be free to publish data obtained from Oxford's baseline supply of flow cells, and the company "does not intend to restrict use or dissemination of the biological results obtained by participants using MinIons to analyze their own samples."

Researchers can register for the program in late November for a "specific and limited time period," and the company will have a "controlled release of spaces" for the program. Oxford Nanopore will give "strong preference" to biologists and researchers working in the area of applied next-generation sequencing "where long reads, simple workflows, low costs, and real-time analysis can be shown to make a key difference."

The company will also give preference to applicants wanting to install several MinIon systems. If too many researchers want to participate, "some element of fairly applied random selection may be used to further prioritize participants."

Oxford Nanopore also noted that it will give preference to successful participants in the MinIon early-access program when it launches a similar program for its GridIon sequencer sometime in the future.

The company did not say what the expected performance of the MinIon sequencer will be, but in 2012, when it first revealed the MinIon and GridIon platforms, it said that both systems are expected to deliver read lengths of up to 100 kilobases and raw read error rates of about 1 percent at launch. According to In Sequence, the firm said then that the disposable MinIon would have about 500 nanopores and generate a couple of hundred megabases per hour, with run times up to six hours.

At the time, Oxford Nanopore had planned to start an early-access program in 2012, but development of the two platforms got delayed, according to a report from In Sequence earlier this year.