In one of our previous articles, we gave a brief overview of biotechnology in the agricultural sphere. Now let's look at its medical applications and see how it is shaping healthcare globally. Interestingly, the broad term "biotechnology" was first used in 1970-ies to describe the novel way of creating protein-based medications. One of the biotech pioneers - Genentech - invented an affordable insulin manufacturing technique using anaerobic bacteria. Since that time, biotechnology has turned into a huge, ambitious industry at the intersection of several scientific areas. It employs a vast range of methodologies and tools, such as pharmacogenomics, gene sequencing, alternative splicing, to develop biological medicines, invent new and upgrade existing treatment protocols, etc.
State-of-the-art computing technology revolutionized the scope and scale of the research in many industries, including biotech. Automation software boosts the efficiency of manufacturing processes beyond imagination. Cloud computing accelerates innovation by decreasing the cost of storing and processing data and allowing easy and instantaneous data sharing between teams and stakeholders. Although medical biotechnology is a heavily regulated industry, and it often takes years to get government approval for new drugs and treatments, smart software solutions help scientists and entrepreneurs achieve their goals faster.
Drug discovery with machine learning
The Emerj article describes how pharmaceutical giants are using the power of Artificial Intelligence for advancing their R&D and shortening time to market for new drugs. New medicine development is a lengthy and astronomically expensive process. And only a small fraction gets approved by authorities. AI and machine learning help make more accurate early-stage predictions about how a molecule will work, about the possible efficiency and toxicity. Even if the success rate is improved by a few percent, for instance, it results in huge savings for the companies. AI helps to translate vast amounts of data into actionable intelligence and insights for researchers, clinicians, and patients. This technology is also instrumental in finding new components that may be potential drugs and possible new uses of drugs, forecasting compatibility with other medications, etc.
According to Statista, cancer treatment takes the lion's share of the medical biotech market. For instance, Pfizer and IBM collaborate on immuno-oncology research. IBM Watson for Drug Discovery AI solution processes millions of medical texts - publications in medical journals, and analyses historical data from genomic and pharmacy databases, clinical and electronic health records systems to make predictions about possible effective combinations of immunity agents that attack malignant cells.
Roches (Genentech) joint efforts with GNS Healthcare also primarily focus on oncology. The latter created REFS™ (Reverse Engineering and Forward Simulation) - ML and simulation platform for validating trial candidates and creating personalized therapies tailored for unique genomes.
Digitized clinical trials
Companies are still exploring the potential of AI and ML for early-stage trials. Late-stage trials also used to require a lot of manual work with in-person visits of participants to provide test samples. The technological transformation of this process led to unprecedented data accessibility. Remote sample collection is now a reality. For instance, the Invitae Discover app facilitates studying genetic triggers of cardiovascular diseases. It gathers health parameters from volunteers ' Apple Health and Apple Watch and analyzes them together with previously obtained genetic test results.
Personalization is a modern healthcare trend, and genomic medicine plays a key role in it. Pharmacogenomics studies the connection between individual genetic variations and drug response. Hereditary inclinations are important for medicine dosage. The related term is theragnostic - the usage of individual genotypic information to design, monitor, and adjust therapeutic regimens.
One of the biotech startups working in this domain is Maze. They explore genetic drivers behind diseases and offer genetic navigators - systemized knowledge necessary to create novel medicines.
Next-Generation Sequencing is a technology based on capillary instrumentation and fluorescent-based detection, which allows simultaneous sequencing of millions of DNA molecules. It allows researchers to get uniform and extended genetic testing results much faster than before. There are quite a few startups in this area, for instance, 10x Genomics. App development for DNA sequencing and cell profiling is on the rise. Now DNA sequencing cost is as low as 100 $. Its further cheapening will lead to the creation of affordable early-detection blood tests for cancer prevention, prenatal diagnostics, etc.
Tissue nano transfection (TNT) is one of the most promising technologies of regenerative medicine. It is used to reprogram the types of tissue with electric impulses. A nanochip delivers the biological cargo (genetic code) to a body cell, where it launches its conversion. For instance, skin cells can become vascular. This non-invasive procedure does not require a laboratory setting and can be done anywhere to treat wounds and injuries, diminish diabetic complications, etc.
Stem cell research has been on everyone's lips in recent years. These cells can also transform into other types of body cells. Now cell therapy has limitations, and biotech companies like Century Therapeutics try to create effective ways to overcome them.
Biosplice uses the method of manipulating stem cells - alternative splicing - to create prevention therapies for joint and bone diseases and slow down aging. The research is still in the early stages.
Medical Biotech with Blackthorn Vision
As global practice shows, the joint expertise of biotech teams - scientists, researchers, and companies that specialize in data technologies bring to life revolutionary products and therapies that benefit the health and well-being of millions. Blackthorn Vision is passionate about innovation and proud of our cooperation with leading biotech companies. Projects aiming to change peoples' lives for the better are a great inspiration to us. We offer a full cycle of software development for any purpose - scientific or commercial. From idea visualization during the Discovery Phase to building an MVP and fully-fledged product - the best world practices and top specialists in the industry ensure you will get the expected result. Let's get in touch and discuss your idea!