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Upcoming Trends in Life Sciences for 2022

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the life sciences sector has received significant attention; accelerating research, development and adoption of life sciences.

Aside from developing therapies for COVID-19 patients and manufacturing coronavirus vaccines for the masses, many are hoping that the surge in life sciences will lead to new solutions for today’s global challenges like rare or critical illnesses, food shortages and climate change.

Recent market forecasts were also optimistic. According to a report by Vision Research Reports, the global biotechnology market size is expected to be worth around US$ 3.4 trillion by 2030. For comparison, the market size was valued at US$ 752.88 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.83% during the forecast period 2021 to 2030.

In this article, we cover some of the top trends that will continue to grow in the year 2022.

Digital Health & Artificial Intelligence

It’s obvious to mention that digital health investment enjoyed significant attention and growth in the year 2021, mostly due to the shift to virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, social distancing measures increased the demand for telemedicine and telehealth.

And why shouldn’t it? Most people are using smartphones (more than 80% of the world’s population), making the adoption of telehealth and telemedicine almost seamless. Furthermore, about 30% of adults in the United States use wearable health care devices.

Eventually, large amounts of data would need to be processed daily, and ‘big data’ would require the use of complex data analytics, machine learning: artificial intelligence (AI).

According to Rock Health, a total of US$ 21.3 billion was raised for digital health startups across 541 investment deals (by Q3 of 2021), dwarfing the US$ 14.6 billion record of 2020.

We believe that the digital healthcare trend will continue to gain momentum in 2022 as digital health companies will lead the way and AI firmly establish itself in the mainstream. Going beyond consumer health, AI is already showing potential in areas like drug discovery or predictive health analysis.

To put things in perspective, the global life sciences analytics market size is expected to reach US$ 14.15 billion by 2028 according to a study conducted by Polaris Market Research, with a CAGR of 7.9% from 2021 – 2028.

Environmental & Agricultural Biotechnology

The recent 2021 UN Climate Change Conference that took place in October-November had 151 countries submitting their new climate plans (known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs) to slash their emissions by 2030.

To keep the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C within reach, we need to cut global emissions in half by the end of this decade. Already we are seeing changes in how financial institutions are approaching the matter. For instance, global banks and issuers have already exited fossil fuel businesses such as coal mining, etc. and are recently venturing into low-carbon initiatives.

Biotechnology will steer agricultural practices that are less damaging to environments. This includes genetically modifying crops to be more resilient with better yield and using targeted bio-control agents that will replace pesticides, resulting in less pollution.

In addition, eco-remedy crops can remove pollution caused by industrial activity from land, enabling revegetation – a process known as phytoremediation.

mRNA Technology Beyond COVID-19

In the past couple of years, mRNA technology has gone from something that has promising applications in healthcare to being vaccines that are administered across the globe in our fight against the coronavirus.

Compared to traditional vaccines, mRNA can be developed and tweaked rapidly (consider the news that Pfizer could create a new shot to deal with the Omicron variant and ship it within 100 days) as well as sometimes having a higher potency.

With their efficacy (and efficiency) now more than proved, mRNA is set to unleash a revolution in both treatments and immunising against infectious diseases, cancer and auto-immune conditions.

Having that said, while mRNA is currently synonymous with COVID-19, expect it to become more mainstream in healthcare systems around the world.

Optimizing the Life Sciences Supply Chain

Addressing global issues takes collaboration on a grand scale. Teamwork between pharma powerhouses, governments, financial institutions and academia were a hallmark of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For instance, new drugs would have taken up to 10 years of R&D before commercialization due to the lengthy process of clinical trials, approval and certification. COVID-19 vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty and Moderna’s Spikevax was approved for emergency use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in less than a year.

While it is within the best interest of governments to ensure that people get vaccinated, financial institutions (including investors in private equity and venture capital) welcome the fact that soon, therapeutics and vaccines can provide a return on their investment faster because now it costs less (given the shorter duration of R&D and approval).

All in all, we remain optimistic that these trends in life sciences will continue to gain momentum in 2022.