As a young entrepreneur and founder of Labiotech.eu, I’ve been covering the field of Biotechnology for the last 3 years. Below are the three major impacts this field could have on society (and this could be massive).
1. Immuno-oncology to cure cancer?
Cancer is still in the top 3 deadliest diseases in the world. The first generation of treatment, chemotherapy, has helped fight some cancers. The second generation, monoclonal antibodies, has also had a big impact. But the third generation of treatments could be the big breakthrough societies have been waiting for. This breakthrough is immuno-oncology: in short, it leverages the patients own immune-system to overcome the disease. It’s radically different from the existing approach (fighting the tumor directly) and has the potential to cure the patient in the long term (avoid fallbacks). This approach raises a lot of excitement in the industry right now. We don’t talk anymore about increasing lifetime by a few months, instead it’s more about aiming for over 90% of total remission in patients. The Swiss pharma company Novartis announced at the end of December that it showed 93% of total remission on a panel of 60 patients in its US Phase II trial. Of course, there are still many challenges associated with this approach, but by 2030, this could become a standard of care and may save many lives worldwide.
2. Microorganisms to produce sustainable energy on scale?
Biotech has the potential of fueling the world. Producing this energy can be made thanks to microalgae or bacteria. These microorganisms are able to transform plant carbon or CO2 into biofuels or biogases. A lot of money has been invested into such processes, unfortunately associated with a lot of failures. The main challenge is to reach high yields in the process which is the only way to compete with other sources of production. Although, a few great successes still exist, for example Global Bioenergies, a French-German biotech company which signed a partnership with Audi to produce the biogases of tomorrow directly from bacteria. But ultimately, microorganisms won’t be the only future source of energy. It will be complementary to other sources of energy. It could be of great use when it comes to replacing fossil fuels such as oil, which is still mandatory to use in some fields like space exploration or planes.
3. After Personal Computers, Personal Biotech?
It’s something very hard to imagine, how could biotech become personal and of use to everyone? If you look back on the history of personal computers, it was exactly the same thing. Computers were created in the late 1940’s and were mainly used by the army for over 20 years. Then, small groups of hackers started playing with computers whereas the general public still had troubles to see the interest. The real takeoff happened when the Apple II was launched, followed by Microsoft and ultimately everybody owning one or several computers. Many experts compare the Do it Yourself Bio (DIYBio)/Biohacking movement to the early days of the computer hackerspaces. You now have many ‘biohackerspaces’ around the world (almost one in every country). They gather very diverse profiles to imagine the future usage of biotechnologies.
If you look at the rapid development of this movement – founded only in 2008 – you could clearly imagine that the personal biotech will be closer than ever by 2030. These are 3 big revolutions that could happen by 2030. Future will tell if mycrystal ball told the truth. Until then, if you’re interested in the world of biotech, I would highly recommend you to go on Labiotech.eu, Europe’s leading digital media for Biotech. Over 35.000 people visited it in January, why wouldn’t you?