Top 10 Biotech
01 - Life Technologies
For speeding up genetic sequencing. Life Technologies is bringing cheap genetic sequencing to the masses, making it possible for hospitals, researchers, and scientists across industries to tap into the insight revealed by DNA. This January, the company announced its latest genetic sequencing machine, the Ion Proton, which can decode an entire genome for just $1,000. The company has advanced with remarkable speed; the new device is 1,000 times more powerful than the Ion Torrent, its one-year-old precursor. READ MORE
02 - Genentech
For making targeted, genetics-based cancer therapies. A division of Swiss pharma giant Roche, Genentech is leading a revolution in cancer treatment, shifting to an era in which patients are given different treatments depending on specific genetic variations. By pairing each drug with a genetic test, doctors can make sure they’re giving the right medicines to the right people. READ MORE
03 - Bug Agentes Biológicos
For breeding a natural alternative to harmful agricultural pesticides. Bug’s mass-produced wasps are killing off larvae and stinkbugs before they can even threaten Brazil’s sugarcane and soybean plants, two of the country’s largest cash crops. By spraying the wasps onto soy fields, the company is replacing pesticides. Aside from targeting harmful bugs, Bug also has a financial target in mind: Brazil’s $7 billion pesticide market. READ MORE
04 - Amyris
For driving biofuels into the mainstream. The California-based biotech firm makes renewable diesel from sugarcane, producing a replacement that can be mixed in with regular diesel and used without any special automotive equipment or infrastructure. Last year, the company opened its first commercial renewable-chemicals plant outside São Paulo, where it will power many of the city’s 150,000 buses, replacing the standard high-in-sulfur fuel. Amyris is also beginning to work with Michelin, replacing chemical rubber with a sugar-based version. READ MORE
05 - GE
For taking advantage of modern internet and wireless technologies to advance healthcare for the elderly. In a partnership with Intel, called Care Innovations, GE Healthcare will tap into what it predicts will be a $7.7 billion business of remote-patient monitoring, developing ways for the elderly to live independently while maintaining access to medical care. Care Innovations was launched last year, as was Making an Impact on Neurodegenerative Diseases (MIND), a campaign to figure out where detection, diagnosis, and care of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are lacking.
06 - Diagnostics For All
For making a liver-health test that’s cheap and as small as a postage stamp. Diagnostics For All prints its medical tests—including the liver-function one and another to check for spoiled milk, among others—on paper, using fairly standard computer equipment. That allows the company to make the tests almost anywhere and for very little money. Each test costs less than one cent to make. The tests are fast too; they reveal results in just 15 minutes. Diagnostics For All shipped its first tests to India last year, and the company is currently running a field trial in Vietnam.
07 - The Plant
For incubating high-tech agriculture and working to grow food without using any energy or producing any waste. By the end of 2015, The Plant, Chicago’s first vertical farm, will be net-zero energy and waste. The complex opened to green business in late 2010; in 2011 a slew of folks moved in, including the New Chicago Beer Company and Skyygreens, producing such goods as aquaponic vegetables, grown using fertilizer produced by tilapia-waste-eating algae. The entire building houses a complex system of input-output loops to reach the net-zero goals, and next year it will get an anaerobic digester to turn waste into energy.
08 - Cellular Dynamics International
For making the first commercially available product derived from adult somatic cells. CDI brought its heart cells, which it calls Icell cardiomyocytes, to market last year. The groundbreaking technology gives researchers the power of pluripotent stem cells, speeding up the drug discovery process without the worry of a material shortage—a constant concern with embryonic stem cells, which are notoriously hyper-regulated. One customer, pharmaceutical giant Roche, uses the cells to screen drugs.
09 - Humacyte
For growing blood vessels from scratch. Laura Niklason started Humacyte after spending part of her time in medical school working in an intensive-care unit, where surgeons often had a hard time finding arm and leg veins suitable for replacing main arteries. Now Niklason, along with Julian Blum and Shannon Dahl, can grow human blood vessels rapidly, making "off-the-shelf" vein grafts. Human trials of the vessels begin this year. Next up are other tissues, such as ligaments and tendons.
10 - Harvard Bioscience
For performing the extraordinary, first-of-its-kind feat of growing an organ in a lab and implanting it in a human. In 2011, Harvard Bioscience created and successfully implanted a windpipe in a 36-year old with tracheal cancer. IT successfully implanted another lab-grown trachea this January. Each was made of the patient’s stem cells, which were combined with nano-particles of the same plastic used in water bottles. By growing organs from scratch, Harvard Bioscience gives hope to those who have been told their cancers are inoperable and reducing the risk that the body will reject transplanted tissue.