This little USB stick can sequence DNA strings in seconds

If you're a criminal who thinks it's going to take too long for law enforcement to nail you using DNA profiling, it's officially time to get worried. Because this little USB stick allows scientists to unravel DNA strings in just a few seconds.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies designed the MinION primarily for use in the medical and genetic research fields, allowing Doctors for example to quickly biopsy a tissue sample while looking for signs of cancer. It could also help archeologists to identify bone fragments discovered at an archeological dig.

That's all wonderful, but I think this has more profound implications for law enforcement. Genome sequencing and DNA profiling are not exactly the same thing, but they are closely related. If this device could be made to work up quickie DNA profiles in the field, don't you think law enforcement be tempted to simply test everyone in the area if a crime like a rape or murder occurs? Sure it could help to solve crimes quickly, but the privacy implications are pretty profound.

Oxford Nanopore says that currently the MinION can only sequence simple genomes like viruses and bacteria, so I guess criminals can rest easy at least for now.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies, via New Scientist

For the latest tech stories, follow us on Twitter at @dvice