January 1, 2013 (Vol. 33, No. 1)

Top Life Science Tools and Technologies for 2012

GEN recently asked scientists for their opinions on what they considered the most important tool, technology, technique, or technical advance to be introduced during 2012. Here, we present the GEN Ten list:

  1. Digital PCR offers absolute rather than relative detection and quantification of nucleic acids by first splitting up a sample into numerous individual real-time PCR reaction experiments.
  2. Third-Generation Sequencing directly reads a single DNA molecule to obtain a clearer view of genomic organization and content, as compared to earlier generations of sequencers.
  3. Gene Editing permits a more detailed study of gene function and opens up the doors to novel approaches to gene therapy through the use of transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs).
  4. Nanopore Sequencing carries out the electronic analysis of single DNA molecules and is adaptable for studies of RNA, proteins, small molecules, and other molecules.
  5. Noninvasive Imaging has applications in drug discovery and development and comes with the benefit of not destroying or injuring healthy cells, blood vessels, tissues, or organs.
  6. High-Resolution 3D Mapping using photographic or microscopic technologies combined with advances in imaging, computer techniques, and image-processing software to map structures like chromosomes to better understand their architecture.
  7. Diatom Frustules research is going on to improve the shape and structural properties of diatom frustules (silica shell) for applications in drug delivery devices and biosensors.
  8. Big Data In a world where we create over two quintillion bytes of data every day, global leaders in academia, industry, and government are grappling with the problem of how to organize, store, evaluate, share, and protect this vast amount of information. New analytic and cloud-based solutions are being developed.
  9. Crowd Sourcing as an approach to distributed problem solving, this is a way to address the big data issue.
  10. Steric Exclusion Chromatography using polyethylene glycol to induce adsorption of biological target molecules on a hydrophilic nonionic surface. Selectivity is size-based, with larger targets binding more strongly than smaller contaminants. Main application is for vaccine purification.

All the entrants who submitted nominations were entered into a drawing to win an iPad mini. We are pleased to announce that the winner was Kyle Fitzgerald from Illumina.

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