I had an amusing dream the other night. Nothing earth shattering: neither starved calves consuming fatted ones nor serpentine molecular orbitals. But, an amusing spin on something I had recently discussed with a friend.
In the dream, I've apparently gotten to a presentation late -- and just missed the announcement of the sample preparation upstream of the Ion Torrent instrument. I look to my side & it's a guy from Ion Torrent with all sorts of stuff in front of him, but when I try to ask him what I missed, he indicates silence. And then I wake up.
How exactly one goes from DNA to the instrument still appears to be a mystery. There is certainly nothing on the Ion Torrent website (which is rather focused on flash, not substance) to suggest it. A reasonable assumption is emulsion PCR, but there are other candidates (e.g. rolling circle).
Given that this is a rather important piece of the puzzle, there are several common guesses for why it is a mystery. One is that there are IP issues to still be resolved. In a similar vein, Ion Torrent just licensed some IP from a British company (DNA Electronics)which sounds like a near clone in terms of approach. A second is that they are still working out what approach to support. A third is that it isn't flashy enough to be worth mentioning.
Interestingly, Ion Torrent has apparently already sold a machine each to the USGS and NCI, plus there are the ones promised to the grant winners (which alas, I am not one of -- though a winning proposal was a kissing cousin of mine). And Ion Torrent certainly hasn't started beating the bushes hard for sales.
I'm still very eager to try out the Ion Torrent box. While it won't replace some of the other systems for many applications, the cost profile of Ion Torrent will open up very high throughput sequencing to many more labs. I have a number of ideas of how I might use one rather frequently. Now if only they'd try to sell me one -- and ideally in the real world, and not while I slumber!