A new Star Trek tricorder, but this time it is not a prop. Scientists from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have developed the world’s first mobile genome sequence analyzer app for iOS. This app, called the iGenomics, when paired with a handheld DNA sequencer, can create a mobile genetics lab.
The app will work with the tiny DNA sequencing device that is currently under development at Oxford Nanopore. Since it works entirely on iOS, there is no need for any other bulky hardware for the analysis — a perfect tool for ecologists and pandemic workers.
Aspyn Palatnick, the chief programmer, worked on this app for over eight years in CSHL Adjunct Associate Professor Michael Schatz’s laboratory since he was a 14-years-old high school intern.
According to Palatnick and Schatz, in the journal Gigascience, the app’s algorithm is designed to quickly map the DNA sequence of multiple viral pathogens and its mutations, including flu and Zika viruses. And more importantly, SARS-CoV-2, for which they have an online tutorial as well. All this even without a live internet connection.
The team’s main objective was to reduce scientists’ and DNA sequencers’ dependency on bulky and expensive servers and laptops when they are on the field. They believe that this app will soon be used by citizen scientists, field workers, and even astronauts.
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