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Top 10 Life Science Innovations of 2016

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For nine years running, The Scientist has sought out recently released laboratory and research products that are making waves in life science laboratories. And for nine years, our expert panels of independent judges have highlighted some of the most innovative tools, software, and techniques to hit the market. The 2016 installment of our Top 10 Innovations competition is no exception. “This year’s crop of Top 10 Innovation submissions contained some great products that posed a real challenge to our panel of experts, tasked by us with singling out the best and brightest,” said Editor-in-Chief Mary Beth Aberlin. “As per usual, the independent judges delivered and highlighted innovations that truly have the potential to transform the life sciences.”

This year’s selection of winning products features a wide variety of technologies, from a single-cell Western blot machine to reagents that fine tune the powerful tool of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. Other winning products include a synthetic human kidney tissue model that may speed early stages of drug development, a camera that enables the capture of super-resolution microscopy data, and a device that makes in vitro optogenetics a viable, high-throughput methodology.

The winners of The Scientist’s Top 10 Innovations of 2016 contest are:

1) Milo (ProteinSimple) – This bench top instrument can perform a Western blot on 1,000 single cells simultaneously, making it possible to characterize cellular protein constituents faster. 

2) ExVive Human Kidney Tissue (Organovo) – Three-dimensional printing makes this synthetic human kidney tissue model possible. With in vitro tissue that approximates the function of a human kidney more closely than ever, drug development may get more efficient by leaps and bounds.

3) The Sequel System (Pacific Biosciences) – Long reads and single-molecule resolution are the name of the modern sequencing game. This sequencer delivers those traits in a high-throughput, relatively low-cost package.

4) Lumos (Axion BioSystems) – In vitro optogenetics is set to become a laboratory powerhouse with the introduction of this tool. Precision and multiplexing define this potentially transformative innovation.

5) LentiArray CRISPR Libraries (Thermo Fisher Scientific) – User-friendly CRISPR-Cas9 tools may lead to the democratization of precision genome editing. These libraries approach that goal by providing researchers with a variety of options and the potential to target about 18,000 genes.

6) nCounter Vantage 3D Panels (NanoString Technologies) – Quantifying RNAs, DNAs, and proteins in a single sample is now a reality with these new reagent kits. Both basic and medical science could benefit from this methodological streamlining.

7) ZipChip (908 Devices) – This microfluidic device drastically speeds up the front end of mass spectrometry, making sample separation a breeze.

8) Turbo GFP Tagged HAP1 Cells (Horizon Discovery) – Fluorescently tagging proteins has myriad uses in biological research. These custom-made products improve upon standard methods of tagging cellular proteins, making the process quicker and more accurate, while rendering proteins of interest easier to image.

9) Prime sCMOS Camera (Photometrics) – This 4.2 megapixel camera makes low-light microscopy just as data-rich as other techniques that subject samples to higher light intensities.

10) GeneArt Platinum Cas9 Nuclease (Thermo Fisher Scientific) This enzyme was tweaked to provide just the right mix of purity and specificity to facilitate more-precise and powerful CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. Be sure to visit www.the-scientist.com/2016Top10 where you can read more about the products that earned top spots and see bios and comments from our expert judges.

Please note: The content above may have been edited to ensure it is in keeping with Technology Networks’ style and length guidelines.