Research Outline

Biotech - The Next Big Thing


To have credible and reliable evidence to support a thesis that biotech will be the next big thing. To look at this from as many angles as possible, but to look for any information or insights into biotech from a coding and/or tech perspective. An ideal response would include examples like using DNA to store data, and would look into how biotech can be used for business.

Early Findings

  • We are defining Biotechnology for our research in this manner: "The fusion of biology and technology, the application of biological techniques to product research and development. In particular, biotechnology involves the use by industry of recombinant DNA, cell fusion, and new bioprocessing techniques to produce large molecules useful in treating and preventing disease."
  • In 2006 Freeman Dyson postulated this: “I predict that the domestication of biotechnology will dominate our lives during the next fifty years at least as much as the domestication of computers has dominated our lives during the previous fifty years.”
  • MIT researchers in 2016, came up with a programming language for living cells that can even be used by those with no previous genetic engineering understanding. This is part of a growing body of evidence pointing to Dyson’s vision.
  • Our ability to read, write, and edit DNA is disrupting everything from human health to manufacturing. The next disruption to take place could be in the world of data storage.
  • Karin Strauss is a principal researcher at Microsoft and is working with Luis Ceze, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, to wield DNA for data storage and computing. "Using synthetic DNA molecules, the team has successfully stored over one gigabyte of readable information, including various forms of media such as the top 100 books from Project Gutenberg, a high-definition OK Go music video, and the #MemoriesInDNA project."
  • The information density of DNA is amazing, as just one gram can store 215 petabytes, or 215 million gigabytes, of data. For comparison, the average hard drive in a laptop can house just one millionth of that amount.
  • Following the next big thing in biotech is often a powerful drive for investors. For example, the UK biotech Orchard Therapeutics, which raised over €200M ($225M) in its Nasdaq IPO back in October, specializes in gene therapies, which are surging in popularity. Another popular field, CAR T-cell therapy for cancer, is the domain of the London-based company Autolus, which raised a €130M IPO on Nasdaq a year ago.
  • CRISPR and other gene editing tools headed the news in 2018, including both negative news suggesting we already have immunity to the technology and hopeful news of it getting ready for treating inherited muscle-wasting diseases.
  • Neuralink is the stuff of sci fi: tiny implanted particles into the brain could link up your biological wetware with silicon hardware and the internet. But that’s exactly what Elon Musk’s company, founded in 2016, seeks to develop: brain-machine interfaces that could interact with your neural circuits in an effort to treat diseases or enhance your abilities. Last November 2018, Musk broke his silence on the secretive company, suggesting that he may announce something “interesting” in a few months, that’s “better than anyone thinks is possible.”
  • 2019 may be the year that brain machine interfaces and neuromodulators "cut the cord" in the clinics. "These devices may finally work autonomously within a malfunctioning brain, applying electrical stimulation only when necessary to reduce side effects without requiring external monitoring." Or they could allow scientists to control brains with light without needing clunky optical fibers.
  • A lot of public figures and private companies have promised a lot of things about brain computer interfaces (BCI's). Like Facebook, which has promised the ability to type 100 words per minute on your phone just with your thoughts.
  • The idea of a bionic organism, or a cyborg, may sound like science fiction. But in reality, these are just futuristic ways to describe a living system that has some inorganic components designed to improve or alter its functionality. Cochlear implants and robotic prostheses could fairly be described as cyborg devices, and under a broader definition, microchipping your cat or dog might make it a bionic pet.
  • Mobiles and laptops provide us easy access to information at about any given time. The next step for the human-technology interconnected evolution is to go from “on the body” to “in the body.” How revolutionary would something like the silent speech concept be?
  • Technologies dealing in digital fabrication are now experiencing proper human interaction. That is essential because of companies like Stratys 3D that work at the "intersection of additive manufacturing, computational design, and synthetic biology and at some point, even materials engineering." The idea is to arrive at the symbiosis between microorganisms, bodies, and even buildings. "Digital biology is not a phenomenon of the future. It is happening right now in front of our eyes. It is only growing bigger this year with all the bells and whistles of 3D printing."
  • The siloed nature of current analyses means that potential artificial intelligence/biotech combination technologies have not been fully considered or priced in.
  • Andrew Ng, a Silicon Valley executive and investor who previously led some of the biggest A.I. projects at Google and its Chinese rival Baidu, says the next wave of A.I. will be in industries in which the tech giants aren’t firmly rooted. Think manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare.

Summary Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • In our initial hour of research we were able to find sources on the biotech topics of data storage, gene therapies, CAR T - cell therapy, CRISPR gene editing tools, brain machine interfaces, bionic organisms, silent speech, digital biology, and artificial intelligence (deep learning).
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.