Anytime I think of a DNA sequencer, I envision a giant machine sitting in a laboratory that costs millions of dollars. I guess that could be the case in some instances considering I’ve never actually seen a DNA sequencer in person. A company called Oxford Nanopore has what may be the coolest USB gadget ever called the MinION DNA Sequencer. The device looks like some sort of fat flash drive.
The device plugs into the USB port of the computer and is able to monitor biochemical processes and sequence DNA using a little bio-mechanical sieve combined with some enzymes to pull a thread of DNA through a little hole in the device where can be sequenced. As the DNA strand is pulled through the hole, each base pair is tested one at any time. The pairs are tested in the order they come through the hole, contiguously.
There is a bit of a wet towel to throw on the flames of your science geek lust, apparently the DNA sample still needs to be prepared in the laboratory. The device is expected to cost about $900 and should make the process of sequencing DNA much more widely available and considerably cheaper as well.