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Oxford Nanopore to Select First Users for Early Access to MinIon; Program 'Heavily Oversubscribed'

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This article has been updated with additional information about the AGBT conference.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies said today that registration for early access to its MinIon sequencer has closed. It will now invite "a number of applicants" to be the first testers of the nanopore sequencing platform.

The company did not say how many early-access customers it will select for the first cycle of the program, which will run for six weeks, or when it will start sending them MinIon sequencers and consumables.

According to a note posted on Oxford Nano's website, the MinIon Access Program was "heavily oversubscribed," though the company hopes to "invite most MAP applicants into the program over its lifetime," which has not been determined yet.

It also said that "many applicants" will be offered fewer MAP packages – consisting of a MinIon device, flow cells, sequencing kits, run software, and base calling software – than they asked for, so the firm can include more participants and a wider range of projects during the first round.

Oxford Nano will offer support for the MinIon through a website, which will include training materials as well as "data examples" from the company and a community forum for users to share their experience.

The first six-week cycle will consist of a configuration phase to install the MinIon and software, a burn-in phase of test experiments with control samples, and a phase for researchers to conduct their own experiments. After that, users need to return all used flow cells to the company and decide whether they want to return the MinIon as well or continue with a second cycle of experiments.

Participants will need to pay a refundable deposit of $1,000 for the MinIon and $250 in shipping for the first cycle.

Oxford Nano announced the MinIon Access Program last October and said it plans to ship "hundreds" of MinIons as part of it. The company said it will not show any sequence data from its platform publicly but expects customers to publish their data instead.

It is unclear when that will start to happen. The Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting next month, where the company first presented its technology two years ago and where many other sequencing developers or their customers have presented their first data, is a possible venue, although being busy with the early-access program, Oxford Nano said it plans to send no representatives to the conference this year.

The conference agenda lists at least two presentations that will cover nanopore technology: David Jaffe from the Broad Institute will talk about “Assembly of Bacterial Genomes Using Long Nanopore Reads” and Zak Wescoe from the University of California, Santa Cruz, will address “Error Rates for Nanopore Discrimination Among Cytosine and Four Epigenetic Variants Along Individual DNA Strands.”

Oxford Nanopore and Jaffe declined to say whether his talk will be based on data generated by the company's technology, but a member of the conference organizing committee told In Sequence that his submitted abstract indicates he will be talking about an assembly with Oxford Nanopore data.

Wescoe told In Sequence that the research he will present is based on a single nanopore device that was described in a publication by Mark Akeson's group last year.

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