The 21st century is proving to be one of the most exciting and prolific periods of innovation in biosciences and healthcare. Advances across biology, technology, engineering and data science are converging to help create new, potentially life-changing solutions for individuals and societies across the globe. BIA has identified areas of strategic importance in this new and exciting age of science. Read our explainer documents and case studies to see how R&D in these areas is already making an impact on people's lives.
- Genomics: The study of our genetic material, or DNA – is enabling truly personalised medicines, designed to effectively address particular patients’ diseases with as few side effects as possible. It is also paving the way to more accurate, convenient diagnostic products that help characterise and potentially prevent disease, by picking up signs much earlier.
- Cell and Gene Therapies: As engineers and biologists join forces to build ever-more sophisticated gene-editing tools, new classes of medicines are emerging, including cell and gene therapies. These involve altering cells or genes, usually outside the body, to provide a patient-specific therapy that is re-injected into the patient. Scientists’ growing understanding of how genes exert their influence, and of the crucial impact of multiple environmental factors on those genes (“epigenetics”), is opening up new frontiers of drug research. It has led to an explosion of activity around the gut microbiome – the colonies of micro-organisms residing in our gut – and its role in health and disease.
- Engineering Biology: This combines engineering, biology and programming to create tools, processes, products and organisms that are greener, cleaner, more efficient and more effective than ever before. This is engineering biology. Its applications span medicine, agriculture, energy, manufacturing and almost every other industrial sector. UK companies are at the forefront of this engineering biology revolution. They’re helping develop the engineering biology toolbox.
- Antimicrobial Resistance: Most modern antibiotics work by breaking down bacterial cell walls, or by inhibiting bacterial growth or repair through interfering with DNA or protein synthesis. But some harmful bacteria have developed ways to out-smart these attackers. They have become resistant. Bacteria reproduce and evolve far faster than humans and most animals, and they can share helpful DNA easily among each other, not just with their offspring. So genes that encode antibiotic resistance are passed around far and fast.
UK biotech companies are at the forefront of these innovative, converging disciplines. These companies are a key part of our membership. As the trade association for innovative life science companies in the UK, we provide a home for these groups through our Advisory Committees and working groups.