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Seven technologies to watch in 2021

COVID considerations unsurprisingly dominate the tech developments that could have a big impact in the coming year

Source | | Esther Landhuis

This year looks to be a promising one for technology development. From advances in vaccines to olfaction, neuroscience to mass spectrometry, researchers describe the tools and techniques generating excitement in their disciplines.

NICK JACKSON: Thermally stable vaccines

Head of programmes and technology for research and development at CEPI in London.

At the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global coalition launched in 2017 to develop vaccines against emerging infectious diseases, we’re interested in vaccine technologies that drive speed, scale and access. That includes the speed at which vaccines are proven safe and effective, and how they can be manufactured at scale and delivered to vulnerable populations so that everyone has access.

At no other time has that proven more urgent than in the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, during which messenger RNA vaccines inside lipid nanoparticles have gone from sequence to clinical proof-of-concept to interim analysis in record time. It took less than four months for the biotechnology company Moderna and the drug firm Pfizer to go from sequence to phase I trial, which is incredible when development typically takes years or decades. These vaccines are already being rolled out to the public for emergency use.

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