Announcing the Winners of The Scientist’s Top 10 Innovations of 2021

Each year The Scientist seeks to highlight the latest and greatest tools, technologies, and techniques to hit the life science landscape. For more than a decade, we’ve been employing the assistance of expert panels of independent judges who weigh submissions of innovative products speeding work in laboratories and facilitating biological discovery.

This year’s crop of entries to The Scientist’s Top 10 Innovations contest reflected the fact that the scientific community, like the whole of society, has been adjusting to a new reality marked by the second year of an extremely challenging and taxing global pandemic. At the same time, work in other areas of the life sciences has preserved. “In a way, it’s heartening that scientific advances have continued to occur in spaces outside of the crucial coronavirus focus,” says Editor-in-Chief Bob Grant. “It suggests that the global biomedical apparatus is robust enough to address a pressing and pointed concern while not losing ground in fields not directly related to that crisis.”

The winners of The Scientist’s Top 10 Innovations of 2021 contest are:

  1. nVueTM System (Inscopix) – This “miniaturized microscope” enables dual color imaging of two distinct brain signals in freely-behaving animals, such as two neuronal populations or neural activity in conjunction with brain blood flow.
  2. PhysioMimixTM Multi-Organ System (CN Bio) – The microfluidic platform allows scientists to connect individual organ-on-a-chip models for disease research and drug development.
  3. MERSCOPETM (Vizgen) – This single-cell spatial genomics instrument, the only one currently available for purchase, detects RNA transcripts from hundreds of genes across intact tissue and returns imaging and expression data at subcellular resolution.
  4. Brain-Chip (Emulate) – This organ-on-a-chip model consists of two channels embedded in flexible rubber polymer—one channel represents blood vessel walls and the other represents the brain—and midway along the chip, the two channels come into contact, allowing scientists to study the blood-brain barrier.
  5. Gemini and Mark I (Q Bio) – The Mark I prototype scans the entire body using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and the imaging results are uploaded to the Gemini platform, along with medical records, genetics data, and traditionally acquired tests of blood, urine, saliva, and vital signs, to create a “digital twin” of the patient.
  6. Chromium X (10X Genomics) – Loading cells, reagents, and a partitioning oil into a microfluidic chip, researchers can use this benchtop instrument to create droplets, or Gel Bead-In-Emulsions (GEMs), that each contain a single cell, a single barcoded Gel Bead, and a reagent, and are ready to be sequenced and used in assays offered by 10x Genomics.
  7. SARS-CoV-2 Neutralization Assay Development Kits (The Native Antigen Company) – This coronavirus neutralization assay uses synthetic versions of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein’s receptor binding domain and its target, the mammalian ACE-2 receptor, to quantify a serum sample’s level of antibodies that bind, and therefore neutralize, the virus, as evidenced by a color change.
  8. Tapestri Single-cell Multi-omics Solution (Mission Bio) – This process for single-cell analysis allows users to consider DNA sequence and proteomic information simultaneously, and therefore correlated at the single-cell level.
  9. CRISPR-SNP-Chip (Cardea Bio) – Equipped with a CRISPR-Cas system tethered to a graphene transistor, this device is the first of its kind that can detect single base differences in DNA without generating millions of copies of the DNA first.
  10. Molecular CartographyTM Single-Cell Spatial Analysis Service (Resolve Biosciences) – This mail-in service offers fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to create high-resolution images of individual RNA transcripts inside intact tissues—down to the subcellular level.

Congratulations to this year’s winners. Be sure to visit where you can read more about the products that earned top spots and see comments from our expert judges.


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