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The First Disposable, USB-Powered Genome Sequencer

The first human genome sequence took 13 years and cost $3 billion — now, less than a decade later, a new company promises to sequence a full genome in 15 minutes for a song. If this exponential increase in efficiency and drop in price sounds like something out of the computing industry, that’s because it is. Multicore processors and customizable clusters are coming to gene sequencing, threatening to disrupt one of the most important industries in modern medicine.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. says its new micro-sequencers — one of which is USB-powered and will retail for $900 — could be used quickly and easily in the field, identifying anything from viruses at airports to new species in the deep jungle. Here’s how it works.

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