Although the novel coronavirus pandemic has had severe ramifications as it spread across the world, it highlights how quickly things move in biotechnology. It’s far from the only area where innovation is happening. You might be surprised where biotechnology could pop up in the future!
When it comes to viruses like the one behind COVID-19, it took researchers just a few weeks to identify and sequence it. Compare that to the 2002 SARS epidemic when it took researchers months to do the same for that virus. Of course, familiarity with a similar virus helped researchers cut down on the time it took to identify the newer SARS-CoV-2. Still, improved machinery has helped cut down the time it takes to diagnose an infection.
Of course, diseases are a glaring example of how biotechnology improvements could benefit human life, but they’re far from the only case. One report by MGI estimates that biotech will have an impact of up to $4 trillion over the next two decades. As much as 60 percent of those innovations will be physical goods created with the help of biotechnology. Think of food, clothing, fuel, and other products. How will this be possible?
Much of the credit goes to computers, which are now more powerful than ever. This means it takes less time and money to perform tasks, and the costly task of DNA sequencing, whether it’s of a virus or something else with DNA, benefits greatly. Secondly, advances in machine learning allow computers to perform tasks previously only accomplished by humans who rely on trial-and-error. Furthermore, as robots can take over some of the physical functions of people, research can continue long past the human limit.
However, it takes more than just capable machines for an industry to reach its full potential. Everyone from consumers to politicians will have to get on board with these technological advances. Without funding, biotech may not advance as far or as far as it otherwise could. And if companies are not open to changing the way they operate, these technologies may not be adequately leveraged. Negative attitudes toward technology could prevent advances from happening or being successful.