Biology presents a natural science that is focused on living organisms and life in general. This branch of science studies the evolution and development of organisms, their physiological mechanisms, molecular interactions, chemical processes as well as physical structures. A trend is a general direction of research or data development, such as an increase in the global temperature. The majority of 2020/21 trends in biology are focused on biotechnology innovations that should allow the development of new drugs or make other contributions to global healthcare.
- The utilisation of engineered resources in the biosynthesis
- The application of CRISPR/Cas technology for biosynthesis purposes
- Production of synthetic cells and genomes
- Biosynthesis in a cell-free environment
- Biomanufacturing of compounds for potential therapeutic applications
- Application of high-performance computing technology in the development of new drugs
- Stakeholder collaboration in addressing novel biotechnology issues
- Analysis of the clinical trials evolution
- Analysis of personalised treatment in the mitigation of rare diseases
- Increase of agricultural yields with the introduction of biotechnology innovations
- The development of value-based pricing models
- The development of pig-to-human transplantation systems
- Assessment of new trends in cell and gene medicine
- Investigation of gain-of-function mutations migrating from specie to specie
- The use of big data in the investigation of plant development
- Analysis of the accumulation of genetic differences by twins in the womb
- Investigations of gene activity regulators in animals
- Investigation of simultaneous transcriptomic and epigenomic profiling from the same cell
- Cell cooperating mechanisms in building organs and sustaining organisms
- The utilisation of cell collectives for anatomic construction
- Application of an electron microscope for visualisation of nutrient sensors in cells
- The utilisation of an electron microscope to discover new features in the human anatomy
- Analysis of transposons as possible causes of undiagnosed diseases
- Investigating a possible correlating between air pollution and babies’ health in pregnant women
- Assessment of harmless genes combinations as possible causes of genetic disorders
- Generation of human embryo models using stem cells
- Genetic editing of monkeys resulting in their ability to mimic human brain processes
- The development of new embryo regulation laws in developed countries as a measure to address growing public concerns
- Linking mutations in a single gene with several separate birth defects
- Neural regulation and cannabinoid exposure in adolescence
Production of engineered organisms can be carried out by changing the metabolic environment or introducing synthetic exogenous pathways. The goal is to take a microorganism that is genetically tractable and modify it to generate compounds of interest in industrial, commercial, health and energy contexts.
The CRISPR/Cas tools are highly versatile and allow effective genome editing. In particular, the technology can be used for the generation of proteins with specific sequences. Inserting/deleting specific nucleic acids or whole-genome regions is a new approach to generate new DNA on-site fragments resulting in the production of microorganisms with specific properties.
The current level of biotechnology allows the synthesis of self-sustaining, lifelike cellular systems with new genomes, specifically tailored to a range of necessary functions. The technology is similar to genome-editing of existing microorganisms, however, it has a more significant range of practical implementations as the generated organisms can not be found in nature.
Alteration of existing biochemical processes in cells to produce chemicals required by the researcher and designing a whole cell is not feasible with the current development of biological science. In this respect, fixing carbon dioxide, production of fuel compounds and synthetic natural products outside of cells is a feasible alternative to cell-based processes.
The generation of proteins with potential therapeutic properties and whole cells is a new direction of research. The latest developments in the field of biotechnology made the large-scale production of therapeutic proteins possible.
Modern computers can solve complex tasks based on using artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. As a result, it became possible to quickly and efficiently analyse the structures of millions of drugs and propose a structure that would specifically interact with target proteins.
The efficiency of stakeholder collaboration is increased with the introduction of new communication technologies and cloud computing. As a result, it becomes possible to effectively organise collaboration among different organisations, academic institutions, smaller companies and government research organisations. With the introduction of new communication technologies, it also becomes possible to increase the number of biotechnology professionals working on the same project.
New advancements in the field of biotechnology transformed clinical trial processes in 2020/21. These processes used to be very labour intensive and required trial participants to be in-person present in the clinic to record their symptoms and receive treatment. Currently, clinical trials are heavily digitalised, which allows quick testing of a substantial number of patients (An example is an Invitae app working through Apple Watch).
It is possible to make treatment more personalised by reducing genetic sequencing costs. With the implementation of more extensive screening of patients, it is expected to make interventions more personalised with targeted therapies and more effective treatment plans.
Global trends suggested that biotechnology provided a considerable number of opportunities for improving agricultural yields. For example, corn and wheat can be altered to withstand harsh environmental conditions, while producing high yields. The issue is highly important in the environment of the growing world population that puts pressure on biological resources, land, and supply chains.
Value-based pricing agreements presume that a seller and a buyer link the respective payments to a specified value that is achieved as opposed to the volume of sales. The indicated agreements are aimed at aligning the incentives between the purchasers and manufacturers of various products. Value-based pricing models in healthcare for instance may presume a lower-payment for drugs unless they prove their high efficiency compared to other treatment methods.
The idea of transplanting animal organs to humans raises ethical issues, however, despite unclear consequences, the trend is gaining considerable momentum. Several approaches are tested for successful transplantation of various organs. For instance, by using CRISPR organs it is possible to transplant pig hears to baboons.
Currently, more than 800 therapies are approved for clinical applications. The respective treatments include CAR T-cell treatments for applications against cancer and bona fide gene therapy.
It was shown that species that originate from the same appendage may manifest gain-of-function mutations under certain conditions. For instance, a gain-of-function mutation was identified in the zebrafish that resulted in the formation of several additional bone sets in the fin.
Big data presents a collection of information that covers a substantial number of species, their habitat, behaviour and nutrition. With 2020/21 developments in computational technologies it became possible to predict the distribution of different plant species in different habitats with greater precision.
Cell division is an important aspect of cellular microbiology and possible replication errors were shown to the development of a considerable number of diseases. DNA replication errors can be studied on monozygotic twins, providing information on possible developments leading to cancer.
Short DNA regions with direct gene expression have been evolving over the last 700 years. The trend has emerged over 2020/21 as a possible approach to generating organisms with necessary properties.
The indicated area of research is important for a better understanding of single-cell multi-omics. In particular, single-cell multiome ATAC + Gene expression can be analysed based on the outlined mode of profiling.
Cell cooperation mechanisms can also be called cellular software and a better understanding of its working principles is necessary for organ transplanting as well as the prevention of cancer. Mechanisms of cellular cooperation are fundamentally important for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.
Control of the development of new morphologies is based on the general understanding of biochemical processes taking place in cell collectives. These processes are very complex and in the majority of cases remain enigmatic.
Electron microscopes are used around the world to investigate a considerable number of biological processes. Nutrient sensors are zinc-sensing proteins that are found in many animals that control their feeding behaviour.
A human body is a complex system and advanced imaging and microscopy techniques can be used to better analyse the most complex parts and eliminate misconceptions.
Development disorders may be explained by jumping gene insertions into DNA sequencing. Investigating in this area are highly important as they provide additional raw data on possible cancer-related processes.
Epidemiological studies in 2020/21 suggested that poor ecology affected baby development.
There are harmless genes in the human body that do not provoke disease on their own, however, their combinations may provoke heart diseases, especially in children.
Stem cells are highly versatile and their application in the development of new drugs is among the most important 2020/21 trends. Nevertheless, using stem cells to produce human embryos underline the necessity of reviewing current ethical guidelines.
Genetic editing of animals is highly important from the developmental perspective and the possibility of generating organs for future transplantation in humans.
New regulations are required to reduce the possibility of producing chimaera embryos based on human stem cells.
The investigations in the areas are necessary as specific causes of birth defects remain unknown. Birth defects should also be connected with alterations in genes and environmental causes of these alterations.
Cannabinoid misuse was shown to be an issue during 2020/21. Disruption in neural regulations was shown to be a major consequence of cannabinoid misuse, which underlines the necessity of heavy regulation of the respective cannabinoid-based drugs.