How Digital Transformation is Shaping Life Science 

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From AI that is helping drug discovery to digital twins that track your health and 3D printed body parts, scientists all across the globe are using digital transformation to accelerate technology in life sciences. 

Keep reading to learn about some of the cutting-edge digital advances that are shaping the future of life science and how they are affecting workers in the sector…

AI and drug discovery 

AI has already demonstrated its ability to increase speed and accuracy when it comes to business processes and decisions. However, its potential in life science is truly life-changing when it comes to drug discovery. 

Drug discovery involves a lengthy and difficult process of predicting how a drug-like molecule binds to a specific protein target. The process of developing just one drug costs around 1 billion dollars and takes 10 years of development and testing before the Food and Drug Administration gives final approval. With a 90% failure rate during clinical development. 

However, a geometric deep learning model for drug binding structure prediction called EquiBind has the ability to discover drugs 1000-times faster. “Predicting how a drug-like molecule binds to a specific protein target is a core problem in drug discovery”. However, this Artificial Intelligence model has geometric analysis that enables it to predict which proteins would fit a drug-like molecule. Using an AI model, EquiBind has the ability to save money, time, and increase the speed it takes to create life-saving drugs.

The switch to using AI in drug development will need researchers to understand AI and how they may utilise it to their advantage. Researchers, particularly those in their early careers, will need to be on the lookout for these digital transitions in order to ensure that they have the abilities required to meet the new job needs. There will also need to be an increase in software engineers in the field.

3D avatars that track your health 

Q Bio, a US-based company, has developed a digital scanner able to measure hundreds of biomarkers. The autonomous scanner is able to scan a whole body in just 15 minutes and can analyse hormone levels, markers of inflammation, any number of cancers and more. 

The idea of the digital scanner, currently being piloted, is to be able to build a 3D avatar of a patient’s body (a digital twin) that can be tracked over time and correlate changes between anatomy and biochemistry, weighted by lifestyle, medical history and genetic risk. These results and scans can then be virtually and securely shared with specialists and doctors around the world to help the patient get the best care possible. 

This medical advancement is hoped to help doctors prioritise patients who need treatment urgently and will create a preventative and sophisticated way of diagnosing illnesses and treatments. Whilst helping to reduce the stress and workload currently on doctors and medical professionals. As the health industry grows increasingly digital, medical professionals must ensure that they are IT literate, and organisations must provide training to assist professionals in making the transition.

3D Bioprinting  

3D printing has been around for some time now, mainly used for making toys and tools. However, in recent times we’ve seen scientists and researchers advance these printers in order to create prosthetics for patients and realistic model body parts that surgeons can practice on prior to patients. In 2018, 3D printers were used to make over 100,000 hip cup implants that were then successfully implanted in patients. 

Looking forward, scientists have predicted that 3D printing could one day be used to print live, human body parts. Printing with cells to create living human tissues. Although a fully functioning and transplantable human organ hasn’t been created just yet, 3D-printed hearts, lungs and muscles are in development with ears, bones, corneas and skin already in clinical testing.  

With the support of scientists and researchers, the future and advancement of 3D Bioprinting is exciting and could alter medical procedures by allowing patients in need of a life-saving organ transplant to acquire one fast. However, with WHO forecasting a predicted shortfall of 15 million health workers by 2030 and more implants being possible through 3D printing, the industry may see an increase in the need for healthcare professionals and will need to plan accordingly.

Artificial and bionic eyes 

Current trials are proving successful in restoring sight to those with incurable blindness through the use of artificial and bionic eyes. After losing his sight over a decade ago, a 78-year-old patient was able to see his family and read words for the first time in 2021. The patient had a CorNeat KPro device implanted into his eye using an artificial cornea developed by an Israeli company. Allowing him to regain his sight. Looking forward, thorough training will be required to assist surgeons and medical experts in implanting artificial and bionic eyes into patients.

Read more [hyperlink to 5 emerging technologies transforming our future] 

Living programmable organisms 

Scientists in the United States claim to have created the world’s first living robot, designed on a supercomputer at the University of Vermont (UVM). These living robots, known as xenobots, are still in development but could one day be used to swim around human bodies to specific areas in need of medicine or to collect microplastic in the oceans. 

Further collaboration between robotic experts and scientists will be required to enhance this technology in the future. Enabling individuals in both fields to get a whole new set of talents as a result of the exchange of knowledge in these two areas.

Read more [hyperlink to 5 emerging technologies transforming our future] 

Unlocking Life Science experts globally 

At Linnk Life Science, we provide staffing, outsourcing and professional services, enabling access to life science experts globally. We unlock life science experts across the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Data Science and Clinical Research Organisation (CRO) industries. Empowering you to focus on the innovation shaping the world around us. 

Connect with Linnk Life Science to find out how we can support your organisation or find you your perfect role in life science.