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18 New And Emerging Biotech Developments Everyone Should Know About

Biotechnology comprises the study and manipulation of living organisms with the goal of creating new products and processes that can improve our health and/or standards of living. It’s a field that can lead to revolutionary new developments in everything from healthcare to food production to waste management.

Major happenings in the biotech industry can have a significant impact on humanity, the Earth and the animal kingdom, so it’s not surprising that headlines from the field are of immense interest to tech experts and the general public alike. Below, 18 members of Forbes Technology Council discuss some of the amazing new and emerging biotech tools and developments everyone should know about and why they’re so exciting.

1. Brain Mapping

In 2021, Google and Harvard announced they had mapped the equivalent of a 1-millionth section of the human brain. The resulting map took up 1.4 petabytes of disk space, comparable in size to three decades’ worth of satellite images of Earth. Once technology advances and allows us to map larger areas of the human brain, we will better understand and be able to help those with traumatic injuries or neurological disorders and diseases. – Joe McCunney, Scalar Labs

2. Autonomous Therapeutic Systems

Autonomous therapeutic systems are one of the most significant future medical technologies. These systems take over patient care from (human) providers by analyzing, determining and autonomously controlling conditions and treatments. Thus, we need to have a precise simulation of a patient’s medical condition—the patient’s bio digital twin. This should reduce human error and medical care costs. – Kazuhiro Gomi, NTT Research


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3. AlphaFold

AlphaFold is a protein folding program developed by Google’s DeepMind. It’s a major breakthrough in the field of protein folding. By understanding how proteins fold, we can better understand how they work and how they can be manipulated to improve human health. Additionally, we can more quickly design better drugs that will bind to their targets with greater specificity and affinity. – Sandeep Singh, Beans.AI

4. Cellular Anti-Aging Research

One of the biggest areas of biotech research right now is anti-aging at the cellular level. Researchers believe that we can actually reverse aging, which could not only help people live longer, but could also provide cures or treatments for diseases that are incurable today. There are ethical issues to be worked out, but the potential to change life as we know it is exciting. – Lior Yaari, Grip Security

5. CRISPR-Based Gene Editing

One thrilling biotech breakthrough is CRISPR-based gene editing. This technique allows precise modifications to DNA, offering potential cures for genetic disorders. For the general public, the implications are vast, including everything from addressing inheritable diseases to revolutionizing agriculture. Imagine a future where we could eliminate conditions such as cystic fibrosis or grow drought-resistant crops. – Miguel Llorca, Torrent Group

6. Microbiome Manipulation

Manipulation of the microbiome is exciting everyone. The study of the numerous microbes that reside within our bodies indicates that their impact on our health extends beyond digestion. Leveraging this understanding has the potential to pave the way for personalized treatments targeting a range of conditions, from obesity to mental health, thereby opening novel pathways toward enhanced well-being. – Jagadish Gokavarapu, Wissen Infotech

7. Living Medicines

An exciting but less talked-about area in biotech is living medicines. Imagine taking a pill filled with good bacteria that’s been programmed to fight your specific illness. These bacteria could sense what’s wrong in your body and release medicine only when needed. This could be a game-changer for treating chronic conditions. But, as with any new tech, it also raises questions about long-term safety. – Margarita Simonova, ILoveMyQA

8. Lab-Grown Organs

One of the most exciting developments in biotech has been the creation of lab-grown organs. Using a patient’s own cells, scientists can now cultivate organs in the lab that could potentially replace damaged ones, eliminating the need for organ donors and reducing the risk of organ rejection. This could revolutionize transplant medicine. – Sandro Shubladze, Datamam

9. Epigenetics And Digital Therapeutics

Epigenetics and digital therapeutics represent groundbreaking frontiers in biotech that would be of mass interest. Epigenetics offers transformative potential for personalized, precision medicine, tailoring treatments to individual genetic profiles. Concurrently, digital therapeutics herald a new era of holistic wellness, integrating technology for enhanced healing outcomes. – Rashmi Rao, RCubed Ventures

10. Sophisticated Wearables

The convergence of artificial intelligence and biotech has given rise to highly sophisticated wearables that do more than just count steps or monitor your heart rate. These devices are becoming capable of diagnosing conditions ranging from sleep apnea to cardiac arrhythmias—all in real time. The beauty of this trend is how accessible it is; you don’t need to be in a hospital to be closely monitored. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

11. Bioluminescent Imaging

Bioluminescent imaging, explored since the ’90s, is gaining renewed traction. It allows for real-time visualization of cellular processes in living organisms by making them glow! Imagine watching how a drug travels and affects different parts of a live organism. This could offer invaluable insights into drug effects and disease progression. – Andres Zunino, ZirconTech

12. Brain-Computer Interfaces

While still a decade away, brain-computer interfaces have the potential to revolutionize the way we learn, work and communicate. The advances in non-intrusive BCIs by a company called Neurable are going to do for cognitive monitoring what the Apple Watch did for cardio health. Consumers will no longer need electrodes and swim caps to monitor their brain health—just Neurable-compatible headphones. – Gentry Lane, ANOVA Intelligence

13. Lab-Grown Meats

Lab-grown or cultured meat is produced directly from animal cells without traditional animal farming. This can potentially address issues related to animal welfare, environmental sustainability and food security. It could significantly reduce the environmental impact of meat production while providing a more ethical and efficient way to meet the growing global demand for protein. – Cristian Randieri, Intellisystem Technologies

14. Organoid Intelligence

Organoid intelligence is a fascinating field, albeit far-reaching and difficult for a non-scientist to imagine as a reality. While AI aims to make computers more brain-like, OI research works to make a 3D brain cell culture more “computer-like” by giving it more inputs and outputs to “think.” Envision a future of brain-machine interfaces and biological computing. – Paula Kennedy Garcia, IntouchCX

15. 3D Bioprinting

3D bioprinting enables scientists to craft three-dimensional biological structures using living cells. This breakthrough could revolutionize organ transplants by offering patient-specific organs, drastically reducing waitlists. Additionally, it holds immense potential in reshaping personalized medicine and precise drug testing. – Amitkumar Shrivastava, Fujitsu

16. Plastic-Eating Bacteria

Scientists have recently engineered bacteria to “eat” plastic waste, addressing one of the planet’s most pressing environmental concerns. These modified bacteria can degrade plastics much faster than natural processes, potentially revolutionizing waste management and significantly reducing pollution. This breakthrough shows how solutions inspired by nature can rise to meet global challenges. – Marc Rutzen, HelloData.ai

17. Generative AI

For biotech companies, generative AI can improve the pace of innovation and improve efficiencies while providing better guardrails for privacy, security and compliance. Generative models trained on biotech content can be augmented with specific private project or company content, automated to carry out validation checks to ensure content compliance (such as not including any personally identifiable information), and verified against specified checklists. – Amrit Jassal, Egnyte

18. Quantum Technology

Quantum may still be nascent, but it’s already showing incredible potential to transform biotech in areas such as drug discovery. Hybrid approaches, such as quantum machine learning, are being explored now for their ability to analyze biological data, identify potential drug targets and rapidly predict drug interactions. This could unlock new drug treatments for complex diseases such as cancer. – Jeff Wong, EY

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