Meet Meenta: The 'Airbnb of Genetics' Puts Gene Sequencing in the Palm of Your Hand

Tuesday, 08 May 2018 - 11:52AM
Technology
Genetic Engineering
Tuesday, 08 May 2018 - 11:52AM
Meet Meenta: The 'Airbnb of Genetics' Puts Gene Sequencing in the Palm of Your Hand
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Movie montages have taught us that when a scientist needs to get something done they head to their lab late at night, turn on their centrifuges (or whatever), and start plugging in samples. There's rarely a moment when the scientist realizes he doesn't have the right equipment and has to file a requisition form – to be processed in 4-6 weeks – or, worse yet, that she needs to get on a waitlist for a machine two states over.

Welcome to the not-so-sexy reality of genetic sequencing: everybody needs to access these machines for their research, but not everyone has one. Even worse, the process of reserving time on one is the scientific equivalent of going to the DMV on a Friday afternoon.

This is where Meenta comes in. Meenta is a startup that aims to the AirBnB of genetic sequencing by making access to sequencing machines quick and easy. Since there are only about 3,000 sequencers in the United States of varying quality and capacity, accessing one in the usual way (calling people up, recording quotes, and researching whether it's even the right machine) is ridiculously time-consuming.

According to Meenta CEO Gabor Bethlendy: "The fundamental problem of scaling personalized medicine is that the infrastructure for accessing these instruments doesn't exist. No one had bothered to do the simple hard work of mapping out where these instruments are. How are you going to put sequencing in the cloud if you don't know where the damn things are?"

Putting access to these machines quite literally in the palm of scientists' hands will dramatically accelerate scientific discovery. And what happens when this technology is applied to – for example – the organ donor list? How many lives might be changed forever because scientists are able to get the information they need to make crucial decisions?

The ability to sequence DNA is becoming more and more vital for all kinds of research, from restoring mutated coral reefs to ushering in a brave new world where parents can look at 80 potential embryos and decide which child they want to conceive based on its genetic predispositions. With all that in mind, Meenta sounds like one of those niche ideas that's going to make someone a million dollars – and impact twice as many lives.

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