Experts have created a program that allows you to analyze the genome using the iPhone. In combination with a miniature device for sequencing DNA and RNA, the gadget turns into a pocket genetic laboratory.
The amazing development is described in a scientific article published in the journal Gigascience.
DNA and RNA sequencing (“reading”) technologies are developing rapidly. A few years ago, sequencers weighing less than three kilograms were new. Today, Oxford Nanopore offers a device that fits in the palm of your hand and weighs less than one hundred grams.
However, the sequencer performs only the biochemical (“wet”) part of the genome decoding. The data obtained on it needs to be processed, and this processing requires an impressive amount of computation. Until recently, this required at least a high-performance laptop, or even an entire server.
Now the necessary calculations can be performed by an ordinary smartphone. However, while the new program is available only for iPhone users. Testing on multiple genomes has shown that in terms of performance it is comparable to its counterparts popular among specialists working on “large” devices.
The user only needs to install the free iGenomics application and connect to the sequencer wirelessly.
The developers emphasize that all calculations are performed exclusively on the gadget itself, and not on remote servers. Therefore, iGenomics can work even without Internet access.
With a pocket sequencer and an iPhone with iGenomics installed on it, the biologist practically carries a genetic laboratory with him. This means that he can read genetic data anywhere in the world.
By the way, this is especially important for the operational fight against viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. The developers have even published an online guide to decoding virus genomes.
The iGenomics application is open source. So in the near future we can expect the release of the same programs that work on other gadgets.