Technological advances have been changing our world for decades. However, after the height of the recent global pandemic, long-coming digital trends in supply chain management, manufacturing processes, and more took center stage and picked up pace as we were thrust into a crisis that demanded many modern developments and improvements.
The biotech and pharmaceutical lab industry was of utmost significance as scientists and other pharma professionals worked against the clock to develop a vaccine. Unrelated to the pandemic, this critical industry has been capitalizing on technology for years, finding new and better ways to screen, diagnose, and treat patients and address disease prevention and mitigation.
Looking forward, there are many new and exciting therapies, technologies, and market trends to explore. As patient demand grows and the industry continues to expand, fresh talent will be needed to carry on its continual evolution for increasingly more successful outcomes.
Market on an Upward Swing for Biotech and Pharmaceutical Laboratories
The pandemic highlighted the importance of the global pharmaceutical industry as the world pushed for an effective stronghold against COVID-19. However, advances in the biotechnological and pharmaceutical sphere have been at the forefront for some time, dating back to before the pandemic, with market professionals anticipating challenges related to:
- An aging population
- A rise in chronic diseases
- Demand for innovative healthcare solutions
- Improved drug development
- New revenue streams—extending beyond treatment
- Better disease prevention and detection
Cell-based and gene therapy products are the next wave of medicine, offering more personalized and focused treatments for patients with chronic, hard-to-treat, or even deadly illnesses. Additionally, heightened competition, greener incentives, and increased accessibility (while maintaining quality, accuracy, effectiveness, and safety) are all paramount considerations as the industry progresses into the future.
Emerging Technologies in the Biotech and Pharmaceutical Lab Industry
Among the many market trend drivers, emerging technologies are partially responsible for the current upward trajectory of the biotech and pharmaceutical lab space. These technologies are paramount in shaping the future of medicine, changing how we can prevent, identify, diagnose, and treat diseases.
New technologies promise to offer patients better, more sophisticated, efficient, rapid, and low-cost services. Two significant technologies presently dominating the industry include automation and CAR T-cell therapy.
Lab automation systems are responsible for speeding up various pharmacy and biotechnology processes, including drug discovery and vaccine production. According to the Laboratory Automation Systems Global Market Report for 2022, this particular market is expected to grow from $5.52B in 2021 to $5.87B in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4%. By 2026, it’s anticipated that the market will reach $6.9B at a CAGR of 4.1%.
Currently, the primary obstacle standing in the way of lab automation market growth is a severe shortage of skilled and trained laboratory professionals to operate the advanced equipment. For example, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) conducted a survey that found average job-vacancy rates in healthcare (which includes laboratory jobs) exceeded 50% in some states, primarily due to a lack of expertise.
However, certain automation technologies, such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) may take off despite a skilled staff shortage. While lab automation requires limited human intervention, RFID technology (similar to bar code technology) for laboratory automation systems can perform additional functions without human interaction. It uses wireless communication for enhanced identification and tracking requirements, heightened accuracy, better productivity and quality, and reduced costs for technology.
For example, as cited in the above linked article, after adopting RFID-enabled laboratory automation systems, Mayo Clinic achieved a 70% reduction in errors, maximized efficiency and patient safety, and reduced specimen turnaround time by 50%.
Car T-Cell Therapy
CAR T-cell therapy is one of the most noteworthy advances globally in the biotech and pharma lab industry. The market for this innovative therapy is expected to surpass $15B by 2028. Increasing numbers of investors, designers, and analysts will help drive the momentum of this novel therapy, along with growing numbers of affected cancer patients and the heightened need for dependable and effective treatments supported by ongoing technological progress.
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is an immunotherapeutic approach to cancer management. In CAR T-cell therapy, T-cells are extracted from the patient’s white blood cells and sent to a facility to be modified using a man-made receptor (CAR). This receptor recognizes, attacks, and destroys cancer cells. This individualized therapy is intended to be a one-time treatment. After the T-cells are modified, they’re carefully preserved and returned to the hospital or other medical facility to be infused back into the patient.
Six CAR T-cell therapy products have already received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while five have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) with one additional CAR T-cell therapy pending eventual approval in 2023. The high adoption rates, coupled with the promise of the ultimate success of the novel therapy, have spurred additional research and developments connected to this technology, including the application of CAR T-cell therapy to solid tumors rather than just blood-related cancers. In the same article linked above, PR Newswire addressed one study that determined that infusing immune cells into patients with tumors affecting their digestive systems resulted in nearly a 50% success rate, with almost half of the 37 participants experiencing a reduction in the size of their tumors after therapy.
Growing Biotech Companies to Watch in 2023
The biotech industry is heating up, and many exciting developments are on the horizon. Many European biotech companies are creating an impact by ramping up their use of advanced technologies to welcome a more modern age of medicine. These companies continue to prove that the possibilities are endless in the pharmaceutical and biotech world.
Companies situated in the UK, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, North America, Germany, and elsewhere are generating ideas and medicines with the use of technologies such as robotics, data science, AI, and other medical, biological, and pharmaceutical-related advancements, to:
- Treat clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with fewer side effects
- Provide treatments for otherwise difficult-to-treat autoimmune conditions like myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disorder that limits a person’s mobility by causing weakness in the skeletal muscles
- Target rare diseases
- Fight drug resistance
- Develop precision engineering technology to reprogram human cells
- Find ways to produce and recycle eco-friendly plastics using enzyme technology
- Produce treatments for blood diseases like sickle cell disease using gene-editing tools
- Use mRNA technology to generate stronger immune responses against COVID-19
- Acquire treatments that target the human microbiome, which is linked to many different medical conditions
- Use artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate the drug discovery process, reducing production time from years to months
- Develop antibiotic-free treatments for common infections
- Create a protein-rich powder or meal alternative using just water, air, electricity, and bacteria
- Implement CAR T-cell therapy to treat and possibly cure cancers affecting the blood and various body systems
- Expand operations to add jobs, ensure adequate supplies of medicines, and discover improved methods to treat illnesses and diseases
Scarce Professions in the Pharmaceutical World in Need of Highly Skilled New Graduates
The pharmaceutical world-not unlike healthcare as a whole- suffered a shortage of supplies during COVID-19, and also became aware of a lack of needed staff, proving just as dire of a situation. Accordingly, 68% of organizations reported struggling with finding, attracting, and retaining talent with the required skill sets to perform in laboratory roles related to pharma and biotech. Even after the threat of the pandemic has lessened, a skills shortage could keep the pharmaceutical lab industry in peril as biopharma manufacturing takes center stage.
The biopharmaceutical sector makes up about 20% of the total pharmaceutical market, banking approximately $163B in current global revenues with a CAGR of more than 8%. Its current growth trajectory is expected to continue, which means increased staff and transforming skill sets are necessary to meet growing volume and enhanced manufacturing requirements.
Advancements in medicine can open doors for new grads and those already in the pharmaceutical field to use varying or developing skill sets or competencies to excel in novel and emerging capacities within pharmacy, technology, and communications. While automation and other technologies threaten to eliminate many manual jobs, these technologies also bring about the possibility of new roles in highly-skilled, technical, or growing areas, providing increased opportunities for learning and loftier incomes.
Skills gaps must be closed in the areas of:
- Automation or AI
- Computer science
- Process modeling
- Gene therapy manufacturing
Medical communications is another important career path in the pharmaceutical realm that helps scientists convey the results of clinical research programs related to newly launched medicines and therapies to regulatory authorities, physicians, and payors. Clinical research and development of new medications and treatment methods are often extensive, and the studies and outcomes can be complex and convoluted, especially as pharmacy continues to evolve.
Medical communication professionals are significant in delivering more concise and digestible information to translate the clinical and scientific data to keep the public and private sectors informed of the latest changes and improvements in the field, potentially affecting health outcomes.
Partner With Oxford for Exciting Career Opportunities in Pharmaceutical Lab Services
Oxford Global Resources prides itself on finding top talent. Our European offices are growing and seeking to partner with biotech and pharmaceutical laboratory professionals wanting to take their careers to the next level and clients hoping to acquire The Right Talent. Right Now. to tackle a complicated or timely project in the lab.
When you partner with us, you are creating a long-term relationship to help propel you or your company into the future and achieve the outcomes needed for lasting success. We don’t want to just acquire numbers. We want to secure a win-for you, for your career, and for your organization.