It is almost impossible to predict exactly where any kind of science will take us in the future, but it would be nice to know. We have looked at upcoming research projects, scientific journals and the focus of the key companies within biotechnology, and have tried to work out what it all means and how things will affect us in the future.
One of the main effects it will have on us as a generation is already happening – a vast improvement in our health. As new drugs are discovered, and constant research is ongoing around the globe, not to mention more affordable and accessible medicine, it is a well-known fact that we are living longer and doing it well. One thing that quite a few people are murmuring about currently is combining this healthcare expertise with regenerative medicine (a branch of medicine that relates to restoring the function of cells) to prevent the ageing process. Fame has it right: we are going to live forever!
Currently, regenerative medicine is being tested on those with chronic illnesses, who are really suffering and would very much like it to stop. Scientists are trying to find ways to restore their cells’ original jobs and stop the pain or malfunctions from occurring. A long term project however is to focus more on the cells that age us, and how we can adapt these to slow down or reverse the process completely. I don’t know about you, but I am keen to hear more about this. There is not a lot of solid ground currently, so we will have to leave you on the edge your chair for now. Sorry!
Moving away from medical and into agriculture, the focus here is on ‘perfect’ crops and sustainable environments. Scientists are finding ways to genetically alter plants to either grow faster/slower, adapt better to their environment, be resistant to pests, stay riper for longer… the list is endless. A key focus throughout all of this research is sustainability. That is what all agricultural research has in common, and will only become more important in the future. We want to build a world that feeds us delicious food, yes, but more importantly one that will be around for centuries to come.
A lot of this research comes down to funding and resources, including support from trade bodies, industry stakeholders and investors. Scientific research is unfortunately rather costly, but as sustainability and the welfare of humans, animals and plants is promoted more, there has been a noticeable increase in investment.
The real message here is that biotechnology is an industry that is not considered on a daily basis, except by those who work in it – we hope! Although it sounds like a dramatic, head-in-the-clouds statement, these researchers and scientists can actually change the world. More than that, they are doing it in ways that really matter and will only benefit us going forward. The industry has changed so much already, and there are more pioneering advances to come, so watch this space!