For years, pandemics have affected humanity and claimed almost half a billion over the past two millennia. Currently, COVID 19 is drastically impacting humanity. However, humanity seems to be guarded with biotech and advanced medicare. Around the world, the national governments and medical authorities are working together as a global response against the COVID outbreak as a measure to slow down the spread of the virus and save lives. However, the long-term combat to defeat the virus is being led by the pharma and biotech industry. The timeline for the possible breakthrough in the vaccine is still uncertain, but significant work is being undertaken globally.
The practice of medicine has changed dramatically over the years through pioneering advances in biotechnology research and innovation; and millions of patients worldwide continue to benefit from therapeutics developed by companies that are discovering, developing, and delivering innovative medicines to treat grievous illnesses. For instance, the COVID-19 outbreak took the biotech companies around 3.1 months from the viral genetic-sequence data publication to the first human study in the clinical trial. Compared to the response to another pandemic caused in 2003 by a virus from the same type—SARS coronavirus—this was very quick. Back then, companies needed 20 months to start clinical trials.
Biotechnology Throughout Time
The term biotechnology was first coined in 1919 by Karl Erkey, a Hungarian Engineer. While the word biotech is of recent origin, the discipline itself is very old. To explain further, humans started employing microorganisms as early as 5000BC to produce wine, vinegar, bread, etc. This divides biotechnology into three particular eras:
- Ancient Biotechnology: In the period before the year 1800, some events that were based on common observations about nature can be categorized as biotechnological developments, for example, the discovery of yeast.
- Classical biotechnology: This is termed as the second phase of the development of biotechnology. This stage existed from 1800 to almost the middle of the twentieth century. In the classical era, different observations started pouring in, supported by scientific evidence.
- Modern Biotechnology: By the modern era researchers had almost all the basic tools available to which fast-forwarded the path to important scientific discoveries. This led to the further categorization of the definition of biotech.
The Second World War was a huge barrier to scientific exploration. But after the war, some important discoveries were researched. These discoveries form the basis of modern biotechnology and also have brought this discipline to its present status.
Telecare And Digitized Medicine
Currently, the home is where much of the medical care takes place and medicinal practices are no longer limited to clinics and hospitals. Due to the introduction of new business models and new ideas like telehealth and telemedicine, healthcare has transformed into digital. With the ubiquity of digital communication, several doctors are now available virtually and deliver care to patients in their homes.
Technology on its own, such as smartphones, is not a magic solution module; rather, success lies within the unification of virtual health and human ability to interact, it also depends heavily on developing partnerships with augmenting technology to enable trust-based patient-centered care in a balanced person with a commitment to efficiency through technology. The amalgamation of technology and human interaction has led to the success of the health wearables industry. These devices are anticipated to revolutionize healthcare through early detection of disease, disease management, and remote monitoring.
A few of the technologies that commenced the advancement of health tech was the introduction of health and fitness bands. Today, these bands and gadgets have been equipped with health apps to further enhance the experience. Further, there is more addition in the technologies such as Smart Swimming Googles— one can gain real-time workout data from the head up mini display through the lens, and can set it to appear on any of the lenses. Smart Scales come with sensors placed under the feet, and they calculate the users’ BMI and their body fat percentage. Apart from these, there are several technologies speculated to be seen in the nearest future.
Future Timeline of Biotech Trends
In the past century, biotechnology has witnessed a rapid pace of evolution and reached incredible rates, to an extent that the field is constantly being disrupted with innovations, developments, and breakthroughs. Over the next five years, professionals anticipate some major breakthroughs in the advancements. Following are few speculations,
One key development that will shape the biotech industry in the next decade will be biosensors. These sensors will be standardized and designed to track various biosignatures such as body temperature, breathing, pulse, and blood pressure. Medical technology is becoming progressively urbane and Biosensors will surely revolutionize health monitoring.
- 3-D Bioprinting
3-D bioprinting seems to be another important prospect in the biotech innovation sector. 3-D printing was among the great accomplishments of the 2010s. The very next stage would be no less groundbreaking. By using living cells, this technology can create different parts of the human body, like the heart valves, skin, and cartilage, to be used in medicine.
Bioprinting can produce drugs and pills, as well as whole organs, including hearts or livers that grow from the patient’s own body cells. The potential to print human organs will also be applied to medical research and education as a means of providing reliable samples for analysis and evaluation.
Environmental and ecological concerns are fast becoming a major area of focus. People are increasingly conscious of the materials they use in their day-to-day lives. One of the materials that have witnessed the most dramatic shift in public awareness is plastic. Estimates suggest as many as 12.7 million tons of plastic enter the ocean annually. It takes decades to decompose and represents a significant threat to aquatic life. Different initiatives are starting to help reduce our dependence on it. The advancement of bioplastics was one method to emerge from the biotech industry.
More and more researchers see organic materials which might decompose over time, or could also be consumed safely, instead of plastic. It is assumed that the use of bioplastics may increase by 20% each year until 2021. Such materials are much less hazardous to the environment, whilst also sustaining many of the perks of regular plastics.
In addition to bioplastics, biofuels will also see an increase in their market share. Biotech heat and energy production will continue to expand gradually to about 7% per year, while biofuel use will enhance by 7% by 2021. Since technology sees much use and becomes more profitable on the markets, its productivity and manufacturing will rise significantly until it is capable of competing on an equal level with its chemical counterparts. Numerous cities in Europe are already using automobiles that use biofuels in whole or in part.
- Gene editing
The human genome was once considered to be a major breakthrough and a cutting-edge of science. It was thought to be a pinnacle in biological research. However, as biotech progressed with time, the sequencing genome has become relatively common. Over the decade genome sequencing has become cheaper, which once cost $95 million, today has dropped to $950.
Researchers have grown to have a greater understanding of the genetics and this has granted them with greater capacity for their manipulation. Thus, gene editing currently stands amongst the most exhilarating areas within the biotech industry.
- Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR)
VR and AR are often related to computer technology, yet the applications of the same in biotech innovation cannot be ignored. Currently, these systems work across various medical fields. For example, it can assist surgeons during delicate operations or help patients recover from injury. These technologies allow people to examine the 3D demonstration of the human body and its various parts. VR and AR allow for a more effective representation of medicine and its effects and provides greater support to doctors during diagnosis. Its uses are not just confined to hospitals, but also in medical training, where patients can be shown in detail how their treatment might proceed.
The future of biotechnology and biotech advancement is indeed shaping up to be a very crucial time. Over a decade, technological innovations and fields are thriving, bringing the enormous potential for implementing change. But this also leads to an important discussion on the ethical implications of such breakthroughs.
COVID Outbreak Might Be Pivotal
The outbreak of pandemic has highlighted the inefficiencies in the biotech industry due to the global failure in recognizing the initial outbreak, producing vaccines, or even repurposing an existing treatment. The crisis has undoubtedly presented significant challenges for healthcare and biotech sectors, but also represents an opportunity for companies to develop essential products and services to assist in controlling the pandemic. Before the pandemic subsides and the global accusation begins it is important to note how it instigated and study lessons to ensure that this situation does not persist again.
Before the pandemic, we had never witnessed the academic world and industry rallied together, in such an alliance of public and private companies that have worked together to produce much-needed additional ventilator capacity, PCR testing capacity, antibody tests, and new therapies. Also never has the National Health Service been challenged on this global level, but it has reacted in a direction that empowers hope and shows the advantages of bringing together public and private sector providers.
To summarize, humanity is no longer defenseless in the age of biotech but it will take more than just biotech development to battle with anything like a pandemic. No level of advancement in science and technology can resolve psychosocial, socioeconomic, and political obstacles that create inefficiencies in operation and distribution. Consequently, COVID-19 might even be a pivotal moment in their corporate development, exemplifying their core capabilities, and competencies to the wider industry and investors alike. As the decade closes and a new one opens its doors, people are eager to see the new possibilities that would emerge further in the biotech industry.