Life Sciences: biology and technology join forces
In 2020, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biotechnology revolution took place before our very eyes. According to the MDI report, 45% of global health issues can be addressed by means of scientific solutions. These solutions have a huge impact on the economy, which we were able to observe during vaccine-related studies carried out in 2020.
Main trends in BioTech
A boost for Research & Development
The AI market in biopharma is developing at a rapid pace and is expected to grow to $3.88 billion by 2025. A number of new startups are taking advantage of technologies such as automation, Machine Learning and AI to conduct advanced analytics in drug discovery and drug development. ML can be used to extract useful insights from unstructured clinical data (as in the case of the startup Flatiron Health, which used this approach to expedite cancer research. In 2018, the startup was acquired by Roche for $1.9 billion).
Digital supply chains (DSNs)
Digitized supply chains use the potential of Industry 4.0, like IIoT, IoT, cloud and analytics, which accelerates agility and leads to improved planning and better order management.
As the saying goes: “Data is the new oil”. We can observe a shift towards Agile manufacturing and the adoption of data-driven models. Using new technologies, such as real time AI-based analytics, allows companies to make better decisions in changing circumstances.
Medical companies around the world can use cloud computing to extend cooperation with other organizations, laboratories, Research & Development centers and academic institutions. The cloud facilitates data storage and management. The potential of the cloud combined with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence is also used in the digital diagnostic process.
Development of telemedicine
Due to the adoption of social distancing practices, the importance of e-medicine has risen significantly. In Q1 of 2020, the number of telehealth visits rose by 50%, compared to Q1 of 2019. Certainly, telepractice, online health assessment and diagnosis are developing trends.
Gene therapy – the technique of using genes to cure and prevent diseases – is becoming increasingly important. Advances in BioTech will allow for increased use of genetic information in the diagnostic and treatment process.
Mindset change and new business models
Disruptive technologies have momentum behind them. But there is one more thing worth paying attention to: a revision of strategies and a shift to models focused on flexibility and agility that enable real change.
So far the Agile mindset has mostly been associated with project management in software houses and huge corporations. In 2020, however, we could observe an interesting usage of Agile methodologies in biopharma and the HealthTech industry working on vaccine and COVID-19 treatment. As per Agile principles, the biotech companies responded to changes, rather than following a plan. In changing, ambiguous conditions, a quick response was crucial. Due to the adoption of the Agile model, it was possible to equalize some phases of work on vaccines using mRNA solutions and thereby expedite the entire delivery process to the market.
A test of agility
For countries around the world, the distribution of vaccines is now a matter of urgency. It is a large-scale, complex logistical challenge, that calls for flawless coordination between several parties. In the article “10 Vaccine Distribution Questions for Supply Chain Leaders”, Gartner points out that, in addition to logistics-related aspects, individuals coordinating vaccine distribution must take local regulations, security, trade demands and even conditions related to the temperature and weather into consideration. Due to the changing circumstances and a wide variety of possible scenarios, the vaccine distribution model has to address all possible issues which may arise, making it a real test of agility.
Machine Learning and AI impact on clinical trials
Clinical trials are studies in which volunteers come forward to help in finding answers to specific health questions. When carefully conducted, these studies are the safest and fastest way to find new treatments and ways to improve health.
The reasons why clinical trials are conducted are as follows:
- to discover whether a new medicine or device is safe and effective for human use.
- to test different ways of using standard treatments or current approved treatments to make them easier to use or to reduce certain side effects.
- to learn how to safely use a treatment in a population for which it has not been tested before, such as children.
Typically, clinical trials are difficult and expensive, and the failure rate is also high – up to 90% of them fail. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have a significant impact on how researchers and health care professionals implement clinical tests. New, effective and less costly ways to develop drugs are urgently needed, so it is no surprise that drug development programs are using new tools based on Artificial Intelligence. It is a trend that will continue to grow and bring positive results for the foreseeable future.
Non-medical trends in biotechnology
Modern biotechnology essentially focuses on medicine. Other areas of biotechnology are renewable energy, agricultural science and environmental science. In this field, small companies, multinational pharmaceutical companies and federal governments are investigating new options. One extremely important area in which we can expect innovation in 2022 is biofuels. New processes for producing clean energy from agricultural, industrial waste, and even algae, are emerging thanks to advanced biotechnology.
Biotechnology in 2022 – summary
In 2020 and 2021 interest in the life sciences rose, including in biology, biotechnology, genetics and pharmacology. 2021 was a landmark year for BioTech startups. For many, the pandemic was a real eye-opener in terms of the possible applications of technology in pharmaceutical companies and BioTech companies. We all rediscovered the importance of sectors working on solutions that have an impact on our lives, such as e-medicine, diagnostics, drug discovery, gene therapy, wearable medical devices, and many others. According to Forbes, the value of the global BioTech market is forecasted to exceed $100 billion in 2022.
Companies were forced to innovate, acting quicker, more efficiently and flexibly. At JCommerce, we support Digital Transformation using Agile methodologies. We know the power of agility and this is why we keenly observe how other industries apply Agile strategies and what the benefits of doing so are. We also believe that Agile combined with Digital Transformation can bring fascinating results.