Forbes India Daily Tech Brief Podcast

5 predictions for 2022: Covid-19 will likely go endemic; more focus on epigenetics; digital and AI will advance R&D

from Forbes India Daily Tech Brief Podcast | Published 1/7/2022

At the start of 2022, we bring you a series of episodes pulling together the five most interesting predictions we found in multiple areas of tech. Today, we look at life sciences tech, where Covid-19 has changed everything. Pushed by the pandemic, the application of digital technologies and AI to life sciences research has accelerated big time, and that will continue into 2022 and more broadly as well. 1. We will likely move to the endemic phase of Covid-19 In 2022, we will move more to the endemic phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection, where we continue to learn to live with the virus,” Elizabeth McNally, director of the Center for Genetic Medicine and the Elizabeth J. Ward Professor of Genetic Medicine at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, says on Northwestern University’s website. Although there are many concerns about new variants, especially Omicron, at this stage it seems like those who are vaccinated and “boostered" are not likely to become very sick after being exposed to the virus. The greatest risk remains for those who choose to avoid vaccination, she says. 2. New and refined methods focusing on the immune system As clinical trials for immune-related therapies in cancer continue to increase, there will be a sharper focus on the immune system in 2022, according to Fios Genomics, a bioinformatics company. Various techniques for the prediction of the immune composition of tumours from bulk data have been developed in the last couple of years and 2022 will see those techniques further refined. 3. Epigenetics research will become more popular Human genome research has traditionally focused on the coding regions of the genome. but, this disregards up to 99 percent of the whole genome. Since these regions contain important regulatory elements that control gene expression, and scientists are becoming more aware of their importance in human diseases, interest in epigenetics—the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself—will increase in 2022, according to Fios Genomics. 4. Increased interest in research into superbugs In 2022, there will be a renewed focus on the fight against superbugs and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), according to Pistoia Alliance, a non-profit outfit funded by the drug companies AstraZeneca, GSK, Novartis and Pfizer. Drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and damage to the global economy will be as catastrophic as the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, according to the United Nations. By 2030, antimicrobial resistance could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty. 5. Life Sciences R&D to become more efficient The combination of digital process automation, AI and machine learning and content services are beginning to become the game changer it promised to be, Ferdi Steinmann, a life sciences industry specialist at OpenText, a Canadian information management tech company, writes in a blog post. A recent survey by Aris Global, a drug discovery tech platform provider, found that 83 percent of Life Sciences respondents said they were using some form of automation in R&D, he notes. 2022 will see intelligent automation become more prevalent, especially in areas such as manufacturing, quality and commercialisation. 

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