Reading through the annual Top 10 innovations list produced by The Scientist it is clear to see that companies from San Diego make a prominent appearance this year. With half of the innovations featured hailing from the Californian city, it secures San Diego's fast-growing reputation as a biotechnology development center.
The top 10 best life-science products produced in the last year were handpicked by a panel of five expert judges. Many of the winners are in the genome sequencing field, an area in which San Diego is known to dominate.
1. DRAGEN Bio-IT Processor by Edico Genome: For faster analysis of genomic data. San Diego.
This technology aims to relieve the pressure of analyzing the growing amount of genomes being sequenced today. Previously scientists had to rely on clusters of large and high-energy consuming servers to carry out analysis. The DRAGEN Bio-IT Processor removes the physical bulk by coming in the form of a chip (Figure 1) which can analyze 18,000 whole genomes.
Figure 1: The DRAGEN Bio-IT Processor exists as a chip that can be installed in a server the size of a desktop computer.
2. MiSeqDX by Illumina: Genomic sequencing machine. San Diego.
This $120,000 gadget is an improvement on their previous MiSeq sequencer featured in the 2012 list. It is the first next-generation sequencing tool to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical diagnostics, accelerating its use for precision medicine. It is also designed to be user-friendly with straightforward workflows.
3. HiSeq X Ten by Illumina: Device for high-volume genomic sequencing. San Diego.
It consists of 10 machines grouped together, at total price of $10 million, which is capable of delivering a major scientific milestone of the $1,000 genome. This new technology allows for whole genome analyses at population-level scales for the first time.
4. IrysChip V2 by BioNano Genomics: System for visualizing long stretches of DNA. San Diego.
Scientists often try to obtain short-read, high coverage sequence data which involves cutting the genomic DNA. This can destroy a genome's topography and therefore subtle elements can be overlooked. The Iryschip V2 allows the visualization of large-scale genomic structures to preserve all regions and structural variations.
5. RainDrop Digital PCR System by RainDance Technologies: For quantification of nucleic acids. Massachusetts.
PCR machines are used to amplify a specific DNA sequence. Scientists using this piece of technology can pick up and amplify rare sequences which can be used to determine the relative gene expression in single cells. It is the emergence of these digital PCR machines that is allowing for tracking of circular tumor DNA.
6. TCS SP8 STED 3X by Leica Microsystems: 3D visualization in nanoscopic detail of subcellular structures. Germany.
An improved edition of the microscope which was featured in last year's list. It allows a 3D visualization of the inside of cells at several frames per second. The upgrade provides the deepest peer yet into cells and even in living specimens.
7. exVive3D by Organovo: Model of the human liver. San Diego.
This 3D liver tissue mimics the macro and micro 3D structure of the human liver, providing an excellent model for experimental use. It provides a closer step to in vivo models and a more predictive assessment of liver toxicology and its function.
8. HAP1 knock-Out Cell Lines by Haplogen Genomics GmbH: Knocks out any gene a customer wants. Austria.
This technology was delivered to knock out any specific gene in order to expand the number of specific human haploid knockout cell lines available. Knockout lines can be chosen from a growing library and shipped within a week for $990, or alternatively they can request a custom-made line with a specific gene knocked out. This allows the generation of knockout cell lines at quick and cheap rates compared to older methods.
9. PreciseType Human Erythrocyte Antigen Test by Immucor: Molecular donor/patient blood type matching. Georgia.
The molecular diagnostic test screens for genes which produce 35 antigens found in blood. This is used by clinicians to minimize risks of alloimmunization and transfusion-related reactions which may occur when blood donor/patient matching isn't correct during transfusion. It is the first in vitro diagnostic to gain FDA approval and provides a much greater accuracy than the serology testing used formerly.
10. Sciencescape: Web-based tool allowing users to browse a personalized news feed of newly published papers of their chosen field. Canada.
This web tool, which can be compared to the social media website Twitter, was founded by a PhD student who grew frustrated with literature overload. It was created to provide scientists with a personalized newsfeed containing recent articles in their relevant research category. There are over 50 million categories available and it is free to academics.