Since the discovery of DNA back in 1953 which was a huge milestone in the field of medicine, there have been numerous advances in the ever growing biotechnology and medicine industry. These advances differ from genetically engineered medicines, such as insulin and human growth hormone, to progressions in understanding, curing, and preventing inherited diseases. All these developments have been instrumental in the growth of biotech industry. The global biotechnology market science is expected to reach US$727.1 by 2025.
Presently, there are thousands of research and development operations being done in different areas such as Cell Therapies, Regenerative Medicine, Neuroscience, Immuno-oncology, and Marijuana-legalization. These researches are opening up different opportunities for startups and many different entities committed to the development of new curative and preventive measures in the biotechnology industry.
Exosomes in Cancer Immunotherapy and Nanomedicine
Though the cure for cancer has yet not been discovered, there have been significant developments in the research and development of cancer drugs, vaccines, and therapies. The latest of these developments are the Exosomes. They are versatile, cell-driven nanovesicles that have the ability to overcome biological barriers and deliver ample amounts of bioactive molecules to specific recipient tissues. This technology has created exciting opportunities in drug delivery and cancer immunotherapy. This applied technology involves bioengineered exosomes that are utilized in specific areas of the body vested with cancer cells. These exosomes deliver potent tumoricidal drugs containing siRNAs and chemotherapeutic compounds to the affected areas. Due to these exclusive functionalities, exosomes have given a new way of targeting and effectively destroying cancerous cells to the researchers around the world.
The traditional cancer treatment has the ability to effectively target and destroy cancer cells, however, they have the risk of damaging the healthy tissues as well. Using exosomes, specific cancer cells can be targeted with minimum damage to normal healthy body cells. It’s a fact that this technology is still relatively young. However, the clinical trials have produced encouraging results. In the near future, there could be approved vaccines, drugs, and therapies to cure and combat cancer. Thus, exosomes in the cancer immunotherapy and medicine are expected to have a considerable impact on the biotech industry.
Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapies
After years of extensive research for the regenerative medicine, the breakthrough came when Nobel Prize winners and scientists, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka and John Gurdon invented the T-cells. Their research involves reprogramming the mature cells to become pluripotent, known as the T-cells. T-cells can be thought of as blank disks on which one can program anything. Through this discovery, the dangerous diseases such as cancer can be combated more effectively and the body tissues and organs can be regenerated as well.
This research was just a stepping stone as presently, there are numerous research companies fully committed to developing the next generation of regenerative therapies. Researchers in the United States created stomach organoids that can be used for transplant. Moreover, Scaled Biolabs focused their efforts in developing kidney organoids in labs whereas United Therapeutics are emphasizing on growing humanized organs in Xenograph models such as pigs. Apart from these companies, several other research companies are working day in and day out trying to invent new advances in biotech. Cell therapies and Regenerative medicines have already come along way, however, the recent developments are exciting. The further expansive studies and applications that T-cells may bring are expected to take the biotech industry to another level altogether.
Presently, Neuroscience is the fastest-growing area in the biotech industry. Its market value was US$ 24.9 billion in 2013 and is projected to grow at 2.9% CAGR throughout 2020. Research centers, Laboratories, and Academic Institutes are the biggest pioneers in this industry with a key interest in projects tested on animals to give insights in the brain functionality. For example, researchers in Taiwan were able to sequence a little under half of a tiny fruit fly’s brain with a single neuron resolution over the last 10 years. This research encompassed 60,000 neurons with a resolution of 1 gigabyte each. If the same was to be applied with a human brain, it would have taken 17 million years to image the human brain like that.
However, the possibilities of understanding the human brain still exist, as the technological advancements and continued research on other species coupled with better resolution technologies like MRIs, CAT scans and EEGs have resulted in dramatic improvements over the years. The Neuroscience industry is practically throwing everything it has got on the way of understanding how the human brain functions. These developments are helping for better understanding and treatment of diseases such as PTSD, depression, Alzheimer’s and other anxiety disorders.
Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare
At the start of the year 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States approved applications that could help better understand the human heart and make diagnostic heart conditions. For example, one such application named the artery system–takes an average of 15 seconds to produce a result. The same diagnosis would have taken a doctor up to an hour to produce the same result. Thus, the demand for Artificial Intelligence-based applications is surging in the healthcare sector. Several companies have emphasized on development and deployment of machine learning AIs. Companies such as Atomwise, GEA enzymes, and A2A are devoted fully to applying artificial intelligence and machine learning in hopes of finding new ways of combating hazardous diseases. Machine Learning has just started to gain ground in the biotech industry. Continuous research in this field is showing promising results and is also magnifying the huge potential carried by AI and machine learning.
Presently, Marijuana legalization is gaining ground around the world as the biotech industry is expanding its reach in research, application, and utilization of Cannabis for its medicinal properties. Several countries around the world are now legalizing the once-maligned plant. Countries like Uruguay, Mexico, and up to 28 states in the United States have legalized marijuana either for medicinal purposes or recreational, or even both. Companies such as Laguna Blends offer coffee infused with hemp protein which has several health benefits from improved immune system and metabolism to reduced cholesterol and blood pressure. Cannabis has already had a significant impact on the biotech industry. However, the continued legalization of Marijuana is expected to open more opportunities for startups to enter the market and continue expanding the industry.
To conclude, the today and tomorrow of the world depend immensely upon the investments in R&D and new technologies such as artificial intelligence. These developments in biotech indicate that the cure for cancer is very close. Additionally, further research also opens up an array of possibilities from regenerating a new liver to growing organoid kidneys, and so on.