Sunday, August 20, 2006

Pocket Sequencer News 1: Single Molecule Sequencing

The Pocket Sequencer comes one step closer, courtesy of work by Greenleaf and Block. Tip of the hat to PhillipJ at Biocurious.

Since this is my first post on the subject (and my 100th post overall, I think), I'll briefly explain what the Pocket Sequencer is (actually, isn't, since it doesn't yet exist. Let's go with "will be".)

Imagine a small (pocket-sized) electronic device, approximately the same size as an iPod mini. Actually, in my mind the Pocket Sequencer looks almost exactly like an iPod mini, with a small screen and a few controls on the front. At the top, instead of a headphone jack, there's a small cylindrical drawer that slides out, about 1.5 cm.

You place a biological sample (blood, hair, faeces, leaves, spores, body parts, pond water, dirt, et cetera) in to the drawer, then slide it closed. The device analyses the sample, then displays the complete genome sequence of the organism(s). Imagine a string of G, A, T and C's marching rapidly across the screen. Obviously, the data can be exported via a USB-type or wireless digital output.

This is the Pocket Sequencer. It sequences things in your pocket; hence the name. How, exactly, it does this, I will leave to the relevant biophysics researchers (and new-profession biophysical engineers) to determine. For example, the people of the Block lab. I assume the mechanism will be fundamentally a result of Physics, rather than Chemistry or Biology.

Time for a wee prediction: I predict the Pocket Sequencer will be commercially available (though probably very expensive) before the year 2025. I think this invention will depend on a major breakthrough in the field of biophysics, probably a breakthrough imported to the discipline from fundamental or high-energy physics research.

1 comment:

TheBrummell said...

Hey, look at that, I'm right, this is post # 100.

No celebration here, though, since that's just a gross count of all posting here - including all the crap "blogroll added" type posts I've made. I'll count those out, and post something actually interesting about 100 posts when I get to 100 real posts.