Clive Brown presented a webinar on Tuesday with multiple updates on Oxford Nanopore technology, Keith Robison covered them all over at OmicsOmics, but I’ll just be focussing on the launch of GridION X5. If you want to know more about GridION, PromethION, Throughput, 1D^2 Chemistry, Basecalling, the FPGA Basecalling Accelerator, and a few other “Quick Flashes” then read Keith’s summary of Clive’s talk (unsure if this will be available offline).

GridION X5

GridION X5 is the machine for labs to build services around. It is essentially 5 MinION instruments bundled together (very nicely) with the compute required to run everything and costs $125,000. It should be available from May 15th. The ability to run multi-flowcell projects will be a benefit to some, but I am unsure how many labs have a need to run more than one flowcell at a time today. As we start using the ONT technology for Human studies of RNA-Seq and Cancer genomes I can see a massive need..but for amplicons and bacteria less so. This is especially the case given that 5 MinIONs costs $5000 versus the $125,000 of GridION!


Up till now it has not been possible for labs to offer MinION as a service, although I’ll need to refer to the T&Cs for our last MinION (London Calling) but I am not clear exactly what the limitations are. Many of the MinIONs I know about are in core labs and they are using them on research projects for others – however they are not commercial services so perhaps this is the current distinction?

We’re just starting to move our MinION out of the research lab and into the Core facility. Now the technology is looking like we can do useful things with it, reliably, it’s worth putting the effort in to get some data into as many hands as possible. For a lab like mine this means putting the lab workflows into the hands of people running Illumina library-prep and sequencing, and also making sure our bioinformatics workflows can handle with the ONT data. Lastly, but most importantly, we need to be able to set clear expectations with our users as ONT, exciting as it is and bullish as I am, is not the rock solid data generator that Illumina has developed. I am confident that’ll change in time but if we get the message wrong to users they’ll be disappointed and an excellent opportunity will be derailed.

I’ll really be looking forward to London Calling and the opportunity to talk to other “PoreCore” managers! How many of them are intending to swap out their MinION for GridION is like,y to be something the investment community will take a keen interest in.