Metrichor Ltd offers fully integrated, bespoke, real-time analysis solutions that are coupled exclusively with Oxford Nanopore's sensing technology. This uniquely streams electronic sensing data of biological molecules such as DNA, RNA or proteins, in real time.
Nanopore sensing arrays can be thought of as processors that convert biological molecules into digital information. Portable, networked devices mean that in situ sensing of biology can be performed online.
The first device - MinION - is a portable, real time USB device that is currently being used by more than 1000 researchers in the Nanopore Community. The larger PromethION serves the needs of users needing higher throughput or more sample numbers. In 2017, Oxford Nanopore plans to release the ultra-portable, mobile-phone compatible SmidgION.
The total costs of ownership of these systems are very low. Research users are currently provided with workflows by the Metrichor analysis platform, EPI2ME, that enable real time, simplified analysis of DNA sequencing data to answer biological questions such as the presence of a particular species in a sample, or antimicrobial markers present in pathogens.
Nanopore devices are highly portable, and suitable for sampling from field locations such as rural clinics, farms, factories or other remote locations.
The impact of real time data
Only Oxford Nanopore devices provide real time streaming of experimental data. Real time data streaming means that users may be able to reach the answer to their biological question rapidly, supporting their decision-making processes.
Metrichor will provide integrated analysis solutions that take advantage of the real time nature of this data by using the proprietary EPI2ME platform to deliver rapid results to users.
Sampling directly from biology
Metrichor will provide bespoke analytical solutions that allow sampling from complex samples directly from the source. This could include blood or plasma, other bodily fluids (sometimes known as 'liquid biopsy'), environmental samples such as swabs of hospital wards or soil samples, transport networks, water networks or other public facilities.
Devices in development at Oxford Nanopore will support this end-to-end functionality. For example, VolTRAX is an automated, programmable sample preparation device designed to support the efficient and easy conversion of an original sample to a form ready for a nanopore sensor, without the need for human intervention. Additional devices are in development to make this process even more portable and easy.
Scalable, custom devices using nanopores
The nanopore sensors developed by Oxford Nanopore can scale from tiny ultra low-cost portable devices, to large centralised installations. Oxford Nanopore intends to design bespoke products for specific large scale industrial purposes that may require repeated automated sampling, processing and alerting services. These might for example be a mesh of sensors in agricultural, industrial, environmental or transport settings.
Nanopore sensing can be scaled upwards; for example the PromethION desktop instrument is designed to provide high throughput sensing data/sample numbers, or downwards to the SmidgION mobile phone sequencer, currently in development. At a smaller scale much smaller sensors may be deployed for high volume analyses such as fields or production lines, or even be placed in remote locations for use without direct human operation.