New Announcements from Ion Torrent and Oxford Nanopore

New Announcements from Ion Torrent and Oxford Nanopore

Ion Torrent

Sequencing companies are making new announcements during ASHG. Two days back, Ion Torrent and BGI jointly announced that BGI would get 37 new Proton machines. Omics Omics blog posted a nice summary of what the company is up to lately -

Ion Previews More Accurate Polymerase, Faster Template Prep

The Ion team reached out to me and invited me to come down to Ion World (conveniently across town) and chat frankly about their new HiQ chemistry. While I had been napping, Ion had pushed the read lengths on the PGM to 400 basepairs, but indels still dogged them, as seen in various public comparisons of sequencing platforms. The HiQ enzyme has two mutations engineered in which improve fidelity. Systematic indel errors are reduced by 90%, to 0.027%, with strand biases in errors markedly reduced. They did confess to me that they have not yet tried the system in the G+C extreme zone I work in (>70%).


Ion has experimented with a number of ways to reach out to their users in unusual ways, and the new program of enabling early technology access to anyone is certainly an interesting twist. Most early access programs target a select few partners at large genome centers. Sometimes one can get connected through professional networks (that’s how Warp got a crack at Moleculo when they were in stealth mode). but other times one simply strikes out (for various reasons I won’t list all the companies that have resisted my entreaties). Ion takes a risk that early versions won’t perform; they are betting that the early users will understand the preliminary nature of what they are getting and will find exciting new uses for them.

The official press release from the company can be found here. We looked around for user experiences on Ion Torrent machines and found an old thread at seqanswers and several other early commentaries from Omics Omics blog (here, here and somewhat related here). Hopefully, with renewed interest from BGI and others, we will get to hear more discussions on Ion instruments.

Oxford Nanopore

We like to say good things about this company, but were horrified to find Ewan Birney mentioned as a member of their scientific advisory board in a commentary at Omics Omics blog !! Someone lying on the abstract of a major scientific paper is not a scientist.

Maybe good senses prevailed at Oxford Nanopore, because Ewan’s name is nowhere in their current website. ONP is announcing an early access program with details being available here.

In late November, Oxford Nanopore will open registration for a MinION Access Programme (MAP - product preview). This is a substantial but initially controlled programme designed to give life science researchers access to nanopore sequencing technology at no risk and minimal cost.

MAP participants will be at the forefront of applying a completely novel, long-read, real-time sequencing system to existing and new application areas. MAP participants will gain hands-on understanding of the MinION technology, its capabilities and features. They will also play an active role in assessing and developing the system over time. Oxford Nanopore believes that any life science researcher can and should be able to exploit MinION in their own work. Accordingly, Oxford Nanopore is accepting applications for MAP participation from all1, 2.

About the programme

A substantial number of selected participants will receive a MinION Access programme package. This will include:

At least one complete MinION system (device, flowcells and software tools).

MAP participants will be asked to pay a refundable $1,000 deposit on the MinION USB device, plus shipping.

Oxford Nanopore will provide a regular baseline supply of flowcells sufficient to allow frequent usage of the system. MAP participants will ONLY pay shipping costs on these flowcells. Any additional flowcells required at the participants’ discretion may be available for purchase at a MAP-only price of $999 each plus shipping and taxes.

Oxford Nanopore will provide Sequencing Preparation Kits. MAP participants may choose to develop their own sample preparation and analysis methods; however, at this stage on an unsupported basis.

Written by M. //