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Oxford Nanopore Meets Apple’s M3 Silicon Chip

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Credit: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos / Unsplash.
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The world is changing rapidly, and with it, our understanding of the molecular building blocks of life. Apple's recent announcement at their "Scary Fast" event introduced the power and speed of M3 silicon chips, and spotlighted Oxford Nanopore DNA/RNA sequencing devices as a companion technology that naturally partners with the new Macbook Pro™ and iMac™, enabling anyone anywhere to quickly uncover new insights about living systems.  

Sequencing for a new generation 

Living beings, from tiny microbes to giant whales, depend on DNA, RNA, and proteins to function. These biological molecules determine how organisms grow, adapt, and thrive. At Oxford Nanopore, we've designed a platform capable of reading the DNA and RNA of anything (known as sequencing) in real-time. This gives the scientific community unparalleled insights into the nature, health, and evolution of organisms, and in the future could transform complex challenges such as how we treat disease and protect the planet. 

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While traditional sequencing platforms are large, complex to run and designed for use only in centralised labs, the founders of Oxford Nanopore had a different vision: a small, portable tool that would enable real-time sequencing anywhere, be it a high-tech lab, the middle of the ocean, or even in space. Our sequencing devices are the first to be compact enough to fit in a backpack or on a makeshift workbench in a remote location.  

Power and portability 

With Apple’s latest M3 silicon chip series, sequencing becomes not just powerful, but more globally accessible. The M3 provides the rapid computational horsepower to support nanopore technology, seamlessly integrating with software that processes the reads from our MinION and PromethION 2 Solo devices. That data is then turned into usable insight through a range of software applications. Now anyone with the latest iMac and Macbook Pro featuring these chips will be able to access the same high-definition biological data with only a sequencer and a high-efficiency Mac computer.   

The M3 chips’ compute capacity can process thousands of inputs at once and in real time – similar to processing 6,000 conversations with Siri simultaneously. Whether in a lab or a distant part of the world, pairing the M3 with nanopore technology now ensures that more people can access high-definition biological data in real-time, all powered by sophisticated machine learning.  

Small size, big impact  

Today, our devices are used for scientific discovery. More and more, this distributed sequencing approach is making it possible to obtain accessible and rapid biological insights at the source with impact in areas such as cancer, rare disease, infections, conservation, agriculture, and more. We envision a future where this technology will be routinely used in clinical care. Oxford Nanopore's MinION and P2 Solo – our smallest sequencing devices – are already supporting human health worldwide:   

  • Detecting cancer faster: Non-invasive approaches, like analysing DNA from solid tumours in the bloodstream, are changing the face of cancer research. Take the pioneering work of HanLee Ji at Stanford: using our MinION, Ji is developing a method for detecting early-stage breast cancer from blood samples, a process known as liquid biopsy.  

  • Pandemic preparedness: As Erik Karlsson showcased with his work on Avian Influenza in Cambodia, our technology's speed, portability, and accuracy are delivering faster and more reliable sequencing data to help prevent future pandemics. 

  • Unraveling the mystery of rare diseases: Time is of the essence when characterising genetic conditions. Nanopore technology allows for longer sequencing reads, offering a comprehensive view of our genome. In Germany, a team at the University of Leipzig Medical Center used the PromethION 2 Solo device to become the first to pinpoint the source of a rare skin disease, Incontinentia pigmenti, that affects the skin, hair, eyes, teeth, and nervous system.  

For more examples of nanopore sequencing in action, click here

Distributed sequencing, for anyone 

Oxford Nanopore’s vision is to enable the analysis of anything by anyone, anywhere. With Apple's M3 chip, we are one step closer to realising that vision by making it easier and more affordable to access rich real-time biological insights.