By Emma Betuel
Twenty years ago, getting a human genome sequenced was a billion-dollar, international project. Today, you can get your dog’s genome sequenced by the end of the month for a few bucks. It speaks to the speed with which genetics has permeated our lives, but despite massive improvements to the technology, the process can still be a bit clunky in the lab.
Before you can even start to disentangle someone’s genetic code, you have to start with a sample. And that sample has to get prepped the right way. It’s a relatively boring process that is often sidelined in favor of flashier applications of genome sequencing (read: reviving mammoths). But it’s a place where Volta Labs is aiming to bring a new focus.
Founded in 2018, Volta Labs is a startup spun out of MIT’s media lab focusing on creating a programmable approach to DNA sample prep. The team is in the process of creating a desktop-sized instrument that can automate the processes used to get genetic samples ready.