The biotech industry is rapidly evolving, with experts predicting this industry’s worth to skyrocket in the next four years, raking more than $775 billion in value. Owing to the current pandemic, one would assume it to be the main driving factor of biotech’s popularity or importance. However, this isn’t the only reason. The increase in financial support within the past few years following promising tests of new and effective medical treatments of a variety of illnesses has also placed biotechnology as an integral life sciences industry.
Biotechnology’s successful progression towards R&D has given birth to three main biotech trends that would dominate the industry of today and tomorrow.
Biotech Trends of 2021
Many factors have influenced the trends in healthcare and medicine today. The main 5 factors influencing the progress of biotechnology following 2021, are the following:
Personalized medicine is gradually becoming a reality for the healthcare industry. Gene therapies that include manipulating human cells and genomes to create customized drugs exclusively for patients are among the prosperous biotechnology areas.
Safe to say that a large portion of the industry is dedicated to personalized medicine.
Going into factual details regarding gene therapy; In 2017, FDA approved the first-ever gene therapy drug called Kymriah. This particular drug uses the patient’s white blood cells to treat and fight acute lymphatic leukemia. In the same year, another medicine called Yescarta was approved.
These previous successes within personalized medicine are the very progress that has given way to further drug development. Despite the many challenges concerning mass-scale production, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb expects the agency to grant 10-20 gene and cell therapy approvals every year, all the way up to 2025, as biotech continues to move fastly towards new developments.
2. Vaccine Development
We all know how biotechnology has played an integral role in fighting against the novel virus and has successfully developed vaccines with 46.2 million shots already administered. The government, biotechnology companies, and the scientific community are doing their best in forging mutually beneficial partnerships to fund research and development areas so that our understanding of vaccines can be refined along with the processes of developing one from scratch.
Referring to customized drug production, a traditional vaccine that is on the market is usually based on a similar process and science – ‘one for all.’ However, as we know, this isn’t how diseases can be approached with a solution – Covid-19 is an excellent example to iterate the importance of customized vaccines.
3. Increased Stake Holder Collaboration
With technology being the core and most integral component of biotech, the integration of more advanced computing technology is paving the way for more convenient operations. Take cloud computing, for example. The said technology has enabled stakeholder collaboration through tools that include data sharing, virtual meetings, and various team collaborations regardless of their location. This very tool brought academic institutions, government research organizations, biotech firms, and any other relevant companies on board over the same platform, conveniently working towards a similar goal.
Considering how important it is to isolate specific research to a handful of people from the scientific community of the same country or institute and allow brains to join from all over the world, cloud computing is the winning technology.
The challenge, however, can expand to the protection of intellectual property over these cloud computing solutions. There is a need for easy remote collaborations over projects that take years to receive regulatory approvals and achieve any investment return. If the years’ worth of research isn’t secured over the network, how will they ever financially benefit from the products they create? This is why it has become necessary that impeccable cloud computing technology and network security go hand in hand for the biotech industry to benefit.
4. Higher Agricultural Yield Demand
With the growing population to almost a 9.7billion in 2050, the concern of adequate food production is also increasing. Naturally, the agricultural yields are proving to be insufficient to provide for the growing population. Biotechnology is also tackling this area and is trying to increase production through genetically modified crops that can grow in unfavorable conditions and provide more nutritional value.
Not only the yield production is increased, but also through gene editing, newer and improved varieties of crops such as wheat and corn can be produced that have shown to survive in harsher conditions. Additionally, they can also protect themselves from harmful chemicals or any environmental damage.
5. The Evolution of Clinical Trials
The clinical trials of the past have been an arduous task; from a manual selection of participants to recording everything that starts from their treatment, symptoms, and even side effects was carried out on paper, only. Not to mention, gathering a sample from a diverse range of participants was another hassle that the drug makers would have to go through.
Fast forward to 2021; the process has been automated to a large extent thanks to digitization that is enabling biotech companies to shorten the selection and trial times. With wearable technology, medical data collection has also become a breeze, and the transfer of this data even faster than before. This fast data gathering and transfer facility have given the researchers the time to single out the ones that do not satisfy the criteria and move on to the more critical aspects of the research.
When speaking about the technologies assisting and speeding the R&D process, we can mention Machine Learning, AI, and Blockchain – as they are proving to be one of the driving forces in driving evolutionary changes within several big and small industries including biotechnology.
Biotech Trends Moving Forward
The biotechnology industry has come a long way over the years and has been accelerating ever since within the areas of research, tech improvements, and breakthrough scientific discoveries. The fast-paced progress has led to the creation of various biotech consulting firms that comprise of industry experts and experienced personnel providing the necessary guidance to the firms that need it, young and established alike.
We can expect many great and successful drug and treatment development in the coming years with COVID vaccines to be one of the many feathers in the cap.