Technology Converging with Biology

Goals

Identify specific examples in which technology is converging with biology (for example, implantables, wearables, and genome editing) to inform a client's decision on potential future investments in technology.

Early Findings

Medical Applications

  • The most common clinically used implants in the US include artificial smart legs, hearing aids, coronary stents, artificial eye lenses, and artificial knees.
  • Other artificial implants in use or development include bionic hands, artificial skin, bladder stimulators, RFID tags, and brain to machine interface.
  • Artificial eye lenses are the most common clinically used implant, with about 2.6 million procedures performed annually.
  • The procedure costs between $3,200 and $4,500 per eye, and the main manufacturers are Alcon Laboratories, Abbott Laboratories, and Bausch & Lomb.
  • Six recent developments in the biotech industry include biosensors, 3-D bioprinting, bioplastics, bioenergy, gene editing, and virtual and augmented reality.
  • The Swiss company CRISPR Therapeutics aims to use genetic engineering to improve the lives of people with hereditary diseases.
  • 3-D bioprinting has allowed doctors to artificially construct internal organs and implant these into individuals that need them.
  • eGenesis is a company that aims to create human organs for transplant using gene editing.
  • Genetically engineered viruses have been used to help patients with inherited diseases like Severe Combined Immune Deficiency or epidermolysis bullosa.

Agriculture Applications

  • C16 Biosciences is a company that uses synthetic biology to create lab-grown palm oil that is cheaper and better for the planet.
  • Ecovative is a biotech firm that uses mycelium biofabrication platform to build sustainable materials.
  • Synthetic biology is also being used to make "green chemicals" out of agricultural waste at the Unversity Center for Surfactants at Columbia University.

Biohacking Applications

  • In Sweden, over 4,000 people have been implanted with NFC chips that allow them to open doors, or serve as access cards.

Other Relevant Information

  • Recent developments in the intersection of biology and technology have occurred in fields like biotechnology, bioinformatics, and synthetic biology.

Proposed next steps:

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