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He is a competitor so Rothberg might be a bit biased, as you say. Still it is good to finally hear some criticism amidst all the hype of the last few days. As several scientists have said "where is the data?" to back up all these claims by Oxford Nanopore.
In the aftermath of the astounding announcement by Oxford, it is fair the criticism that Oxford has not yet released any data to make the claims more believable. It is however similar to the situation of Ion Torrent a few years back, when the PGM machines where shown at the conferences exhibits (e.g. ESHG in June 2010), but no data had been released to the scientific community until many months later. If Oxford manages to get the platform out with specs similar to the announcement, it will be a huge improvement over "ensemble" based technologies, which require PCR amplification of targets prior to sequencing (be in clusters like Illumina or the new SOLiD wildfire, or in emulsion, like Ion Torrent, 454, and old SOLiD) - a process that takes sometimes days (such as the case of Ion), and introduces biases. If the readout takes 15 mins or an hour, but the sample prep takes days, the rate limiting step is not the sequencing engine - there is a mismatch impedance. For a really revolutionary platform we need both fast sample prep and sequencing. These were the claims of prior single-molecule platforms like Helicos and PacBio, but these platforms sank under their weight of their instruments (literally), which have large optic assemblies. Single molecule sequencing however have it own perils, such as stochastic events that increase error rate, and require a flexible assay to allow repeated sequencing of the same template.
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