The next decade might witness drastic developments in the field of biotechnology as the past two years have been swept by the deadly pandemic. The need for vaccines and drugs is on continuous rise and biotechnology is one of the busiest sectors working amidst the lockdown.
Biotechnology offers solutions in the fields of healthcare, agriculture, environmental science etc. In the field of agriculture, scientists of biotechnology work to raise crop yields as demands keep rising. In the field of environmental science, protection of the environment with bio products is under research.
Applying the concepts of biotechnology in the field of healthcare gain priority as new infections and diseases are on continuous rise. Scientists of the next decade may work upon discovering drugs and introducing them for public use quicker.
Clinical trials are one of the most important fields of biotechnology that involves pharmaceutical companies, doctors and patients. To understand the basics of clinical trials, let us flip the pages of medical history to 1928. Alexander Fleming, the scientist behind the invention of penicillin, created a new step in the world of vaccines. But the vaccine came to common use only after 14 years, in 1942. What happened in between can simply be understood as “clinical trials”.
Clinical trials can be explained as tests performed on human subjects to confirm the safety and efficiency of any medicine, vaccine, medical device or therapy. Large scale businesses run in this field making biotechnology an essential field in human lives.
In the current scenario, most of the biotechnology companies run a race in producing vaccines, thanks to the advent of Covid 19. As the Covid vaccine is an essential need now, traditional methods of clinical trials need to be replaced by modern technologies to make vaccines and drugs quickly and easily available in the market, along with ensuring safety and efficiency.
Easy access to clinical data via wearable devices
One of the main challenges in traditional clinical trials is patient engagement. With the use of modern technology, patient data can be obtained from wearable devices. With sensors, clinical data such as ECG, heart rate, temperature and even drug delivery can be obtained. This makes it easy for more patients to engage themselves for clinical trials.
The next decade might see new innovations in the field of sensors and signal processors, as their evolution may accelerate the phases of clinical trials.
Application of data science to comprehend results
Data science is another concept associated with clinical trials, through which a large set of obtained results are processed. If any drug is being tested across large populations with varying health conditions, applying data analytics play a vital role in decision making. New techniques of data management might evolve in forthcoming years to assist clinical trials in a better manner.
The near future might also see human-less clinical trials, where just algorithms are formulated from available data. With the help of computing technologies, available data can be used to foresee results with the help of advanced algorithms. This helps to wind up clinical trials faster to bring medicines for common usage.
Personalised medicine with the study of genomes
Personalised medicine is a modern technique to formulate drugs according to a person’s genetic make-up. It also helps to predict diseases before they occur with the help of a person’s genes. For example, when a set of genes from diabetic patients are studied, it provides information about which gene type is more likely to be affected by diabetes. This helps in early prediction and lifestyle changes.
Key trend in this field of personalised medicine is cancer treatment. The next decade may even look towards skipping chemotherapy and replacing it with personalised medicine. The application of personalised medicine reduces side effects and overdose. By studying a person’s genetic design, treatment plans can be tailored to suit that particular patient. In this way, one simple drug can be designed to treat multiple ailments in the patient’s body. Drug delivery with nanoparticles is another vast area that could emerge broader in the next decade.
Bio printing is one of the important areas of biotechnology where human cells and tissues are used to build an organ. This area is under constant development as the need for artificial organs is on the rise. Bio compatible inks are used to print an organ from design. This technique is also used to produce skin grafts, hair follicles etc.
Bioprinting the heart as a whole organ would be a key trend of the next decade, as patients with heart diseases are on continuous rise. Fat cells from a donor are extracted and a fully functioning heart is developed. This concept is still under development, and it may become one of the greatest trends of the next decade.
Bioprinting skin grafts
Skin grafting is mostly needed in treatment of burns. By bioprinting the patient’s own skin cells, they enable better and faster healing.
In case of severe bone fracture, synthetic materials are commonly used in treatment. But the bone cells do not grow or function the same way as natural bone cells. By bioprinting bone cells and grafting them, the bone cells fuse naturally and can be seen as a better way of treating fractured bones.
Bioprinted Cornea for eye transplant
Eye transplant is the most common type of organ donation. By producing cornea with bioprinting, this can reduce the waiting time of patients. It also ensures bio compatibility by using the patient’s own cells.
These are a few trends that could set a trend for the next decade. Though there are several other areas within the field of biotechnology evolving faster, above listed are gaining importance with more demand.
The fight against Covid 19 may continue for next year as variants are predicted. Assumptions and predictions may become true or not, but still the key areas of biotechnology dealing with drugs and medicines will continue to be in the limelight throughout the next decade.