Blog post by Lawrence Jones, Ph.D.
2021 will be a year that forecasts and trends from a few years ago that came to a halt are now at the forefront of technical publications again. For instance, a year ago, emerging trends in biotechnology proved exciting as we embarked on an optimistic future of long-awaited drug developments for Alzheimer’s disease. Biogen’s FDA filing for new drugs was promising as they acquired from Pfizer Incorporated’s a novel drug for the potential treatment of patients with behavioral and neurological symptoms. However, with the onset of the scientific focus, health focus, and public health focus of SARS-Cov-2, this biotech topic dominated many of the projected trends of 2020.
The vaccine industry has been revamped and tweaked in ways that we have never seen before. I could touch on the up and coming vaccines, therapies, and strategies for SARS-Cov-2 and the variants that appear in various parts of the world and country; however, there are daily updates about this topic. Nevertheless, 2021, like 2020 and 2019, will continue to utilize and improve technologies that apply genome editing beyond traditional human drug development. Veterinary Medicine, which continues to enhance animal livestock, and animal agriculture, will evolve like never. The launch of Prime Medicine by David Liu, Ph.D., and associates has developed a technology geared for creating or correcting any single-base transition mutations and treating sickle cell disease.
The development of the two mRNA vaccines by Pzier and Moderna, currently being used to vaccinate millions of Americans and people worldwide, are new technologies that will enhance gene therapy innovation strategies for health care in the future. 2021 will reveal official and unofficial partnerships of various companies evaluating their portfolios. Digital therapeutics will also continue to play significant roles in monitoring and tracking disease and infection rates and health management. Research and development for SARS-CoV-2 disease control methods through various treatment by way of therapeutic antibodies, therapeutic antivirals, and vaccines (whole virus, RNA or mRNA based, non-replicating viral vector, and protein subunit) will continue to be at the forefront.
There will be continual surveillance through PCR (molecular) tests to detect the virus’s genetic material to determine the presence of active infection with SARS-CoV-2. More rapid antigen testing to see pieces of proteins that make up the SARS-CoV-2 virus to determine the presence of active disease with SARS-CoV-2 is also at the forefront of innovation. Serology tests for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-2 variants in the blood will continue to be a 2021 trend. More importantly, having effective distribution strategies and real-time communication for the public and patients receiving a vaccine will be vital to gaining control and protecting millions of people.