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Nanopore Technologies Develops Rapid Device for DNA Sequencing of Pathogens

The UK startup company Oxford Nanopore Technologies is speeding the discovery of pathogens with its MinION device, a portable, low-cost, real-time DNA and RNA sequencer. The MinION connects to the just-introduced MinIT hand-held AI supercomputer. The MinIT is a rapid analysis and device control accessory for nanopore DNA sequencing that arrives with genomics researchers.

The new hand-held AI supercomputer, powered by NVIDIA AGX is capable of sequence analysis in real time at any location. It is preconfigured with software for quick setup and easy operation of the MinION. The pocket-sized MinIT is powered by mains or separately available battery packs so that it can be used either in a lab environment or out in the field.

The new device as tested by the scientists helps in fighting viruses that destroy crops. It is mostly used in east Africa to characterize pathogens affecting Cassava plant. Researcher’s experiment as performed in a small farm in Tanzania characterizes the viruses responsible for cassava disease within 3 short hours. This helps the farmers with enough essential information to fight plant pathogens to improve crop productivity.

It also helps in onboard analysis of seawater, examining communities of marine microorganisms. Scientists seeking to understand biodiversity in the ocean and how climate change can affect microorganisms in the sea will get real-time data with the help of this AI supercomputer that could last weeks or months.

MinIT is now being shipped to scientists working across a variety of scientific disciplines. Many are working on healthcare applications, such as the rapid identification of infectious disease, cancer or other diseases. Others are focused on the plant or environmental science, or even using the technology in education.

MinIT is compatible with MinION, and also Flongle – an adapter for MinION that allows rapid, lower cost, smaller tests. Nanopore users have indicated that the MinIT will be used alongside MinION or Flongle in a variety of scenarios including rapid characterisation of infectious disease samples, cancer research, environmental analyses and food testing.

MinIT also comes preconfigured with software to run nanopore sequencing experiments, removing the need for configuration of a laptop. The instrument software MinKNOW, and real-time analysis platform for nanopore data, EPI2ME, can both be run on MinIT.

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