August 11, 2022

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Scientists predict the hottest life science technology in the future

Scientists predict the hottest life science technology in the future



Scientists predict the hottest life science technology in the future.   Last year, the COVID-19 epidemic swept the world, and scholars in the field of biomedical research rose up to meet the challenges and achieved unprecedented scientific achievements.

Scientists predict the hottest life science technology in the future. 

2021 has come, and although the pandemic continues, the American magazine “The Scientist” believes that now is a good time to understand the direction of life science innovation in 2021 and beyond. This time, “The Scientist” invited three experts from the independent jury to share their views on the field of life science and technology in the coming years. They are:

  • Paul Blainey, an assistant professor of bioengineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University,
  • Kim Kamdar, a managing partner of Domain Associates, a US venture capital firm. She worked at Novartis and Syngenta has conducted drug discovery research for nine years.
  • Robert Meagher, a major technical expert at Sandia National Laboratory in the United States, his main research direction is to develop new technologies and equipment for nucleic acid analysis, especially for infectious diseases and biological defense And microbial communities.



The following is their conversation

“The Scientist”: If you had to choose a life science innovation field or a technology that will make headlines in 2021, what would it be? And why?

Paul Blainey: Value is shifting from the influence of single technologies (mass spectrometry, cloning, sequencing, polymerase chain reaction, induced pluripotent stem cells, next-generation sequencing, genome editing, etc.) to the influence of cross-technology fields. In 2021, I think researchers will increasingly use multiple technologies to combine to generate new insights. Technology agnosticism will also become more and more popular, because the emergence of multiple technologies will propose more feasible research approaches.

Kim Kamdar: As part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the headlines in 2021 will be continued innovation focusing on the consumerization of healthcare. It redefines how medical consumers interact with medical providers at each medical stage. Consumers are now more picky about their healthcare options.

Robert Meagher: I think the answer is mRNA delivery. This technology has been developed for many applications for many years, but it was not until the successful development of two new coronavirus vaccines based on mRNA technology and the emergency use authorization of the FDA that this technology became a very dazzling bright spot. Vaccine trials and their widespread use will provide developers with a large amount of data about the technology and lay the foundation for understanding safety and side effects when considering future medical applications other than infectious diseases.

“The Scientist”: Single-cell technology has flourished in recent years. Do you think this trend will continue? Or how will it evolve?

Paul Blainey: Single-cell technology will continue to exist, although its use will change. An analogy is that we see a shift from the re-sequencing of genomes that was popular in the early days of the Human Genome Project and NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) to the practically abundant resequencing applications today. I expect that in the next period of time, new methods using single-cell technology will continue to emerge.

Kim Kamdar: The innovation of single-cell technology may push biological research to higher resolution, providing a more detailed picture of complex biology. Cost has been a major obstacle to the widespread adoption of single-cell analysis. With the birth of better technologies, costs will become lower and lower, and single-cell research will explode. This change will also allow it to expand from translational research to a wider range of clinical applications, especially in the fields of oncology and immunology.

Robert Meaghe: Yes, this field is still innovating, there is still a lot of space. We have recently seen a field of development, and I think it is still going on, that is to study single cells with spatial information, that is, to understand the interaction between single cells and their neighbors. I also want to know whether the COVID-19 pandemic will stimulate people’s interest in applying single-cell technology to solve infectious diseases, immunology and microbiology. Many existing single-cell RNA analysis methods are suitable for human or mammalian cells, but not for bacteria or viruses.


“The Scientist”: CRISPR-oriented technology seems to be booming, do you see anything exciting in this field?

Paul Blainey: The prospects of CRISPR and gene editing are extraordinary, and I can’t wait to see how this field continues to develop.

Kim Kamdar: Since its inception in 2012, CRISPR technology has mainly focused on its use to modify genes in human cells to treat genetic diseases. Recently, scientists have demonstrated the potential of using CRISPR gene editing technology to treat viral diseases (essentially a programmable antiviral drug that can be used to treat diseases such as HIV, HBV, SARS, etc.).

The research published in Nature Communications shows that CRISPR can be used to eliminate the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) in rhesus monkeys. If the results of this research can be replicated in human trials to be launched this year, then CRISPR will be used to treat HIV and can transform a chronic disease into a functionally cured disease, which will have a major impact.


“The Scientist”: In the coming year, which innovations will be transformed into clinically relevant technologies?

Paul Blainey: New therapies that expand the range of treatable diseases will be particularly exciting. Cell-based therapies provide a versatile platform for bioengineering technology. It is also encouraging that somatic genome editing technology is moving towards the clinical direction of treating serious diseases.

Robert Meagher: In addition to the great success of mRNA-based vaccines that have laid the foundation for other mRNA-based clinical technologies, another area that has really attracted attention this year is diagnostics. Many laboratories and companies, large and small, provide some truly innovative products and ideas for portable and instant diagnostics.

For a long time, people often thought that this was a problem in developing countries or regions with limited resources. However, the epidemic of new coronavirus pneumonia and the related demand for large-scale diagnostic tests have prompted us to rethink the meaning of “limited resources” and understand the challenges posed by bottlenecks in the supply chain, technicians and high-complexity laboratory facilities. In the past few decades, there has been a lot of basic research on fast, portable, and easy-to-use diagnostic technology, but its transformation into clinically useful products seems to have stagnated.

I suspect this is due to the lack of a lucrative market, but we are now starting to see the FDA provide emergency use authorizations for home testing and other new diagnostic technologies to meet the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. I guess this is paving the way for these technologies to be applied to the needs of other diagnostic tests.


“The Scientist”: Although 2020 is a turbulent year, the life sciences community is still trying to mobilize around the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that the world has never seen before. Do you think the human response to the future pandemic will be similar or different from this time?

Paul Blainey: Seeing the pain and destruction caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, we obviously need to prepare a broader, fairer and better coordinated response plan. Although rapid vaccine development and testing were the two highlights of last year, there are still many important areas that need to be advanced. When we understand how important details become in a crisis, no matter how trivial, diagnostic technology and public health measures adjustment are two areas worthy of attention.

Kim Kamdar: The response of the life sciences to the COVID-19 pandemic has been proven to be much faster than the response to any epidemic in the past, especially in the areas of vaccine development and diagnosis. In 2002, the genome sequencing of the SARS virus took more than a year. The genome of the new coronavirus was sequenced less than a month after the first case was diagnosed. Scientists and clinicians can convert this initial information into a variety of approved vaccines at an extremely fast rate.

Moreover, the new vaccine development technology has been verified. Vaccine science has been changed forever. The pandemic has also increased people’s attention to diagnosis, forcing people to rethink how to improve the availability, affordability and operability of diagnostic tests. The 2020 innovation to combat the COVID-19 epidemic will provide a faster, more focused and more feasible response to the future pandemic.

Robert Meagher: Obtaining the entire genome sequence of the new coronavirus early, and continuously updating the sequence in the process of sequencing the isolates. This is a series of major events that really quickly start the research on the COVID-19 epidemic. Therefore, I foresee that the near real-time sharing of sequence information will become the new standard. The widespread and inexpensive availability of viruses in inactivated forms, as well as well-characterized synthetic viral RNA standards and proteins, also help to promote research.

But one trend I don’t like is the rapid publication of the results of non-peer reviews on the Internet as preprints. It does have great benefits to release new information to the community as soon as possible, but unfortunately, I think that in some cases, rushing to obtain preprints can lead to the spread of misleading information.

Compared with waiting for peer review to accept the first draft and then issuing a press release, publishing a press release without review at the same time as the preprint will complicate the issue. I think the solution may lie in the journal’s consideration of innovative ways to speed up peer review, or at least a basic rigorous check before publishing the first draft.

The current extreme situation is: either publish an uncensored preprint, or wait for months or even years for multiple rounds of peer review, including extensive additional experiments, to satisfy multiple reviewers’ demands on high-impact publications. Claim. Is there a way to prevent the first draft from being published as a preprint due to obvious methodological errors or statistical analysis errors, while also opening up interesting, well-done but not yet fully developed research drafts to the public?


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