Katherine Tran is the senior manager for Global Strategic Marketing in proteomics life science research at SCIEX. Katherine joined the SCIEX team with a strong desire to further the company’s mission of delivering solutions to advance human wellness. Her main area of interest is mass spectrometry-based proteomics in which she has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience over the past 10 years.
Maryam Goudarzi, PhD, is the senior manager of metabolomics & lipidomics at SCIEX. From 2017 to 2020 Maryam served as vice-president of the Metabolomics Association of North America (MANA) and is currently a board member. She is also a founding member of MANA’s early-career council, co-chair of MANA’s microbiome interest group, co-chair of metabolomics interest group of the American Society of Mass Spectrometry (ASMS), guest editor of Microbiome, and serves on the WomiX (Women in Metabolomics) committee.
In 2022, we expect to see more streamlined integration of the state-of-the-art technologies available to us today. Innovations like accurate and nominal mass spectrometry and capillary electrophoresis applications, which have advanced rapidly since the turn of the century, can lead to more precise, targeted, and personalized therapies being developed faster. As we continue to improve our understanding of various biological systems, this increase in knowledge leads to more questions and requires better execution of our analytical technologies and methods. Here are five major trends in biomedicine and precision wellness we expect to see in the next decade.
Antimicrobial resistance and the continual rise of superbugs
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been on the rise since the discovery and use of antibiotics. AMR kills 700,000 people every year, which is predicted to rise to 10 million by 2050, more than the current global death toll from COVID-19 or cancer and diabetes combined. To stop or mitigate AMR, we will need to develop rapid diagnostic tests, new vaccines, and alternative antimicrobial treatments, as well as improve hygiene and sanitation to prevent the spread of infections.
New food and water safety risks driven by global competition
As global competition increases, manufacturers are changing their approach to quality control, packaging, and storage—factors that impact the safety and quality of their products. Without the proper care, molds can grow on foods stored for extended periods, producing mycotoxins that result in acute poisoning with long-term effects like immune deficiency, cancer, or even death. Additionally, PFAS are harmful, man-made chemicals that can cause endocrine, cardiovascular, and immune problems, and are found in everyday products due to quality assurance failures. It will be necessary for advances in food and water testing technology to aid in the discovery and development of new medicines to treat diseases caused by contaminated food.
Normalizing “pandemic speed” drug development
To create the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine within a year, researchers from a variety of research niches, including gene therapy delivery technology and HIV virology, had to quickly come together. Changing and shortening drug discovery and clinical trial processes allowed scientists to identify promising therapeutic candidates and eliminate failed candidates earlier in the process. These approaches can help drug developers focus their attention on successful candidates—getting treatments to the public faster. Running more personalized, representative trials and consolidating Phases 1 and 2 of clinical trials can also help create a more cost-effective, efficient, and precise drug development process.
Increasingly frequent vaccinations
As third and fourth doses of the COVID-19 vaccine become more commonplace, we predict a shift in how people manage their immunity to infectious, and noninfectious, diseases. Regularly “upgrading” the immune system, also known as “forever boosting,” protects against new variants of viruses and bacteria. Personalized mRNA vaccines to treat non-communicable diseases like cancer could soon be available as the scientific community continues to advance mRNA therapeutic technology, a critical part of immunopeptidomics.
Greater decentralization and remote interactions in the global and digital economy
Telehealth options for clinician visits, home testing, health tracking, and genetic testing are becoming increasingly available. Similarly, researchers are analyzing data and monitoring samples remotely rather than in the lab. At both the academic and R&D levels, research has become more automated thanks to the rise of robotics and smart automation. This decentralization and automation will allow researchers to collaborate regardless of location, and with the help of artificial intelligence, biobanking, and large data sets, they can more readily identify new data patterns, advancing fields from mental health to food safety.