Oxford Nanopore makes TIME magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential

Oxford Nanopore Minion

Gene sequencing company Oxford Nanopore, which has developed a new generation of sensing technology that uses nanopores – nano-scale holes – embedded in high-tech electronics, to perform precise molecular analyses, has made it onto American Time Magazine’s list of most influential companies.

The magazine said: Genomic sequencing—the process of identifying the genetic makeup of a given organism—traditionally requires bulky, expensive lab equipment. Not so with Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ sequencers, some of which cost as little as $1,000 (affordable, as these things go) and are small enough to slip into a pocket. The devices allow for fast results in nearly all settings, making them a key tool in the fight to identify and stop the spread of new COVID-19 variants. They may be especially impactful in the developing world, where sequencing efforts are often hamstrung by limited access to technology and other resources.

Oxford Nanopore recently revealed that researchers supported by the company’s sequencing technology say they have sequenced the entire human genome and uncovered epigenetic patterns, 30 years after this mission began.

In a paper published in the journal Science the group of researchers, who make up the Telomere-to-Telomere (T2T) Consortium published the first truly complete 3.055 billion base pair sequence of a human genome.

Technological barriers have previously meant that eight per cent of the genome remained inaccessible. However using sequencing technology from Oxford Nanopore, and others, this has finally been overcome.

Another business from the region featuring on the TIME list of 100 is Astroscale. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, it also has a major base at Harwell in Oxfordshire.

Low earth orbit is a mess, with a belt of debris presenting a risk of collision with spacecraft. Tokyo-based Astroscale is developing technology to collect the junk and send it on an incineration plunge through the atmosphere. Last year, the company launched a two-part satellite that separated and reconnected by magnets, demonstrating a debris-gathering technique. The company wants future satellites to carry magnetic docking ports to allow for collection. Astroscale’s vision, says CEO Nobu Okada, is “to make space sustainable.