What Is Oxford Nanopore Technologies?

Updated June 27, 2019

This article was scientifically reviewed by YourDNA

We take the information we share seriously. Review our Editorial Policy Here.

A list of references is also included at the bottom of this article.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies is a company on a mission to change the biological analysis market by making it simpler to improve the performance of organizations that could benefit from their DNA and RNA sequencing technology.

What's in this Guide?

Disclaimer: Before You Read

It is important to know that your genes are not your destiny. There are various environmental and genetic factors working together to shape you. No matter your genetic makeup, maintain ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoid harmful alcohol intake, exercise regularly, get regular sleep. And for goodness sake, don't smoke.

Genetics is a quickly changing topic.

In this article, we will review why Oxford Nanopore Technologies is set to change the world by making their advanced scientific systems easier to use and access by researchers or companies that need biological analysis.

What Is Oxford Nanopore Technologies?

Over 80 countries use Oxford Nanopore Technologies DNA/RNA sequencing technology, and their clients use it for research studies or industrial projects.

Biological researchers use it for large-scale human genomics, for microbiology, cancer studies, microbiology, botany, and environmental research.

Besides researchers, professionals in other fields use this electronic-based technology to gather information for their businesses. For instance, industries as diverse as health care, food and water surveillance, agriculture, and education use it too.

This widespread adoption for research in various fields and applications in multiple fields or industries is because the company focuses on making nanopore sequencing easy to use and prepare based on a library preparation kit and automated VoITRAX programming.

Although Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ primary product based on single-molecule nanopore science serves it well, the company also has a large patent portfolio, with many generations of nanopore sensing technology based on solid-state and biological nanopores.

Is Oxford Nanopore a Public Company?

Oxford Nanopore Technologies is a private company. Its headquarters are in Oxford Science Park, Oxford, UK. It has satellite offices in Cambridge, UK, and Cambridge, US, and also in New York and Shanghai.

Additionally, the company has a commercial presence in Germany, France, India, and Japan.

Started in 2005, the company’s stated mission was to disrupt the paradigms of nanopore science by making it easier for people to use this advanced technology anywhere. Their solutions include SmidgION and Ubik. Clients can use SmidgION with mobile telephony, while Ubik provides an inexpensive portable sample preparation.

Rather like a university, the company has a large, multi-disciplinary staff.

350 highly qualified professionals work for Oxford Nanopore who have expertise in one of the following disciplines:

  • Nanopore science
  • Molecular biology
  • Informatics
  • Engineering
  • Electronics
  • Manufacturing
  • Business (marketing specialists in commercialization)

What Products and Services Does Oxford Nanopore Technologies Offer?   

Oxford Nanopore Technology has many proprietary products in different formats to make scalability easier. It also offers consulting services to support training and projects.


Here is a brief description of Oxford Nanopore Technologies main sequencing platforms:

Flongle — Released in 2018 as a limited early access program, this small format technology works well for on-demand, fast, small experiments. Clients can use it in their laboratories and in the field.

MinION — Released in 2014 as an early access program, MinION served a broader commercial role a year later. This is a powerful, pocket-sized portable sequencing device that delivers high volumes of sequence data.

GridION X5 — Released in 2017 for commercial use, this benchtop device operates 5 MinION Flow Cells simultaneously. It’s suitable for on-demand needs, like big genomics projects.

PromethiION — Released in 2018, it offers the biggest format for electronic nanopore sequencing for on-demand use. It can operate 48 Flow Cells, with each Flow Cell providing 100 Gb of sequencing data.


Oxford Nanopore Technologies services focus on bringing users up to speed on how to use the main sequencing platforms.

Here are some examples of its primary services:

  • Certified service providers help clients with nanopore sequencing steps, reduce the nanopore sequencing error rate, and improve the nanopore quality score.
  • Certification programs are offered based on student’s understanding of Oxford Nanopore tutorials, Oxford Nanopore white papers, and Oxford Nanopore publications,
  • Nanopore sequencing consultancy offer solutions like nanopore error correction and may provide supplemental materials like an Oxford nanopore getting started workbook or an Oxford Nanopore manual.
  • Nanopore sequencing training provides in-depth information on various topics, such as the MinION sequencing protocol or nanopore adapter sequence.
  • Workshops provide hands-on experience, like how to load a MinION flow cell or MinION flow cell reuse.

How Much Are the Products Offered?

Users can get nanopore sequencing products at the following price points as of June 2019:

  • Flongle system access starting at $1,760
  • MinION Mk1B system access starting at $1,000
  • MinION Mk1C system access starting at $4,900
  • GridION X5 system access starting at $49,995
  • PromethION 24 system access starting at $165,000
  • PromethION 48 system access starting at $285,000

Do Oxford Nanopore Technologies Products Work?

The products have been laboratory and field-tested to work, and Oxford Nanopore provides consultancy, training, and practical workshops to support users.

For instance, the company received a positive Oxford Nanopore MinION review when it comes to nanopore applications because the MinION played a significant role in the detection of viruses 1 obtained from human blood samples — specifically in detecting the chikungunya virus, the Ebola virus, and the hepatitis C virus.

What Is Nanopore Sequencing?

A nanopore is a microscopic hole, one set at a nano-scale, and there are two kinds of nanopores — biological nanopores or solid-state nanopores.

By placing a molecule in an Oxford Nanopore device, it is possible to identify the nature of the molecule. Since these molecules pass near or through the nanopore, measuring the changes in current provides information about the molecules.

How Does Oxford Nanopore Sequencing Work?

In a biological nanopores-based DNA sequencing system, a technician sets a protein nanopore in a polymer membrane and uses a minimal voltage 2 (~100 mV.) to pass an ionic current across this electrically resistant membrane. The voltage applied is minimal.

Since the current disrupts once an analyte passes near or through the nanopore, the technician can identify the molecule by measuring the current using standard electrophysiological methods.

In essence, then, ionic current blockades provide invaluable information about the identity and structure of targeted molecules 3.

When it comes to Nanopore sequences, there are two types: biological nanopores-based DNA sequencing systems and solid-state nanopore-based DNA sequencing systems 4.

Biological nanopores-based DNA sequencing systems are made when proteins pierce a membrane. In comparison, a solid-state DNA sequencing system does not use proteins but a metal or a metal alloy allows DNA or RNA to go through it.

Biological nanopores-based DNA sequencing systems have several benefits and limits compared to solid-state nanopore-based DNA sequencing systems.

A biological nanopores-based DNA sequencing systems have a uniform pore structure, make it possible to get precise control of a sample’s location through pore channels, and use unique proteins from different organisms to make it easier to detect individual nucleotides in a sample.

Despite these benefits, there are also some liabilities. First, since proteins can be sensitive to different environments, this affects their mobility. For instance, a protein molecule may only travel at a sufficient speed within a given pH range but does not move fast enough outside this range.

Second, environmental factors may also affect protein longevity. Third, the nanopore sequencing cost can go up to ensure the right environment for the protein molecule to stay intact after a given number of runs or go at a fast enough speed.

When experimental design costs go up this has an adverse effect on competitive pricing.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Nanopore Sequencing

Three nanopore sequencing advantages are 5:

  1. Minimal sample prep is required.
  2. Nucleotides, ligases, or polymerases are not necessary for sequence readouts.
  3. Long reads are possible, greater than 10,000 to 50,000 nt.

Three nanopore sequencing disadvantages are:

  1. Electronic noise makes it difficult to distinguish one base from another. There is only a subtle difference between the electric current range when the nanopore is empty and when there is a DNA molecule going through it.
  2. Since nanopores, whether natural or synthetic are extremely small, it is not easy to connect one to an outside circuit to process the signal.This makes nanopore sequencing data analysis difficult.
  3. Complications arising from nanopore clogging.

Can Anyone Purchase From Oxford Nanopore Technologies?

Oxford Nanopore wants to provide a viable biological technology for anyone, anywhere.

Since their DNA/RNA sequencing technology is easy to use compared to their competitors, it is more accessible to a larger population interested in high-quality biological analysis.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies vs. Competitors

Oxford Nanopore ranks among the top best sequencing companies in the world.

It places tenth after Illumina, Thermo Fisher Scientific, BGI Genomics, Agilent Technologies, Qiagen, Macrogen, Pacific Biosciences of California (PacBio), Genewiz, and 10x Genomics.

If it does not rank higher, it’s not because there are problems with Oxford Nanopore but because these other firms have a longer history, more employees, and higher revenues.

This placement is highly significant in the real of nanopore technology because it adds weight to the argument that there is a huge technological shift is occurring in the world of DNA sequencing 6.


Professor Hagan Bayley of the University of Oxford started Oxford Nanopore in 2008 by, along with co-founders Gordon Sanghera and Spike Wilcock.

Despite its relatively recent launch, it has already placed tenth compared to other top nanopore sequencing companies. When it does go public, the Oxford Nanopore IPO will likely be impressive.

Three factors appear to have contributed to its rapid growth. The first is good science. The second is its efforts to make its technology more affordable and user-friendly to those who need to use it.

The third is its collaborations with top nanopore researchers at Harvard, Boston University, and the University of California Santa Cruz.

Recently, Oxford Nanopore has raised $572M based on various funding strategies, including raising the Oxford Nanopore share price for the next phase of its corporate growth. The company appears poised to continue its mission to disrupt the paradigm of existing nanopore sequencing technologies.

Powered by Froala Editor

Referenced Sources

  1. Rapid metagenomic identification of viral pathogens in clinical samples by real-time nanopore sequencing analysis.
    Greninger, Alexander L.; et al. 2015.
  2. “The Potential and Challenges of Nanopore Sequencing.”
    Branton, Daniel, David W Deamer, Andre Marziali, Hagan Bayley, Steven A Benner, Thomas Butler, Massimiliano Di Ventra, et al. 2008.
  3. “Single-Molecule DNA Detection with an Engineered MspA Protein Nanopore.”
    Butler, T. Z., M. Pavlenok, I. M. Derrington, M. Niederweis, and J. H. Gundlach. 2008.
  4. Solid-State Nanopore-Based DNA Sequencing Technology
    Liu, Zewen; Wang, Yifan; Deng, Tao; Chen, Qi (2016-05-30).
  5. “The Potential and Challenges of Nanopore Sequencing.”
    Branton, Daniel, David W Deamer, Andre Marziali, Hagan Bayley, Steven A Benner, Thomas Butler, Massimiliano Di Ventra, et al. 2008.
  6. Landscape of Next-Generation Sequencing Technologies.
    Niedringhaus, Thomas P.; Milanova, Denitsa; Kerby, Matthew B.; Snyder, Michael P.; Barron, Annelise E. (2011-06-15).