Background: Gene sequencing has played an integral role in the advancement and understanding of disease pathology and treatment. Although historically expensive and time consuming, new sequencing technologies improve our capability to obtain the genetic information in an accurate and timely manner. Within neurosurgery, gene sequencing is routinely used in the diagnosis and treatment of neurosurgical diseases, primarily for brain tumors. This paper reviews nanopore sequencing, an innovation utilized by MinION and outlines its potential use for neurosurgery.

Methods: A literature search was conducted for publications containing the keywords of Oxford MinION, nanopore sequencing, brain tumor, glioma, whole genome sequencing (WGS), epigenomics, molecular neuropathology, and next-generation sequencing (NGS). In total, 64 articles were selected and used for this review.

Results: The Oxford MinION nanopore sequencing technology has had successful applications within clinical microbiology, human genome sequencing, and cancer genotyping across multiple specialties. Technical details, methodology, and current use of MinION sequencing are discussed through the prism of potential applications to solve neurosurgery-related scientific and diagnostic questions. The MinION device has proven to provide rapid and accurate reads with longer read lengths when compared with NGS. For applications within neurosurgery, the MinION device is capable of providing critical diagnostic information for central nervous system (CNS) tumors within a single day.

Conclusions: MinION provides rapid and accurate gene sequencing with better affordability and convenience compared with current NGS methods. Widespread success of the MinION nanopore sequencing technology in providing accurate, rapid, and convenient gene sequencing suggests a promising future within research laboratories and to improve care for neurosurgical patients.

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