Nature + Technology

Bioconvergence is the Future of Healthcare

Nature + Technology

Bioconvergence is the Future of Healthcare

We live in a post-genomic era, where data, molecular engineering, and new frameworks redefine possibilities. Researchers, engineers, and biotech firms are moving beyond the “nature-inspired” paradigm. The lines between biology, engineering, nanotech, and IT are becoming increasingly blurred. What we’re seeing here isn’t just gradual iteration. It’s a revolution, a mass convergence of multiple different fields: Bioconvergence.

Original source of graph – Figure 6.3 on Israel Innovation Authority’s webpage https://innovationisrael.org.il/en/reportchapter/bio-convergence

Next generation of healthcare solutions aren’t just inspired by nature. They actively incorporate biological systems and processes, unlocking possibilities that were unthinkable just a few years ago. But what is this paradigm shift? What exactly is bioconvergence? And what does it mean for the future of healthcare?

Technology + Nature:

Enabling Convergence

Through most of the history of modern medicine, technology and biology have had a complex relationship. Early Decartesian practitioners emphasised the similarities between the human body and complex mechanical systems. Other strands of thought adopted more holistic perspectives.

Regardless, key medical innovations over the past two centuries relied on technology and biology working hand in hand. The discovery of penicillin—little more than mould on a windowsill— was a fluke of biology. But the manufacturing of antibiotics and the fight against communicable diseases was possible because of 20th century technological innovations.

More recently. IT has begun to play a greater role in the medical field. The human genome was mapped for the first time in 2004 and researchers came to a profound conclusion: the body was so much more than a machine. Humans, and the intricate biological systems we’re made out of, are the products of over four billion years of evolution: of iteration, improvement, and refinement on a scale we can hardly conceive of.

And it’s not just us. The entire world is made up of biological systems that exceed our best attempts at engineering: spider silk with multiple times the tensile strength of steel, radiation-resistant plant nanofilaments, and eyes with greater resolving power than most cameras.

What does this mean for the healthcare industry? Researchers recognized that biology wasn’t just a source of challenges. Wedded to technology, it offered real solutions. Molecular engineers, medical scientists, and biologists came together and a new paradigm was born: Bioconvergence.

What is bioconvergence?

Bioconvergence is an industry segment within healthcare and research in life science that emphasizes the synergy between engineering/technology and computerized systems. Bioconvergence is based on the understanding that biology and tech, the two pillars of biotechnology, aren’t as hard to reconcile as they appear.

Bioconvergence isn’t limited to particular stages in the biotech chain. It’s an approach that can be applied end-to-end. Many emerging areas in biotech, from omics and bioprinting to biomimicry to diagnostics, are rooted in the bioconvergence paradigm.

After all, biology is really just engineering that’s been refined over billions of years.

Personalization: The new frontier in healthcare

Over the past century, we’ve made immense strides in tackling infectious diseases like smallpox, influenza, polio, and now lately, Covid19. Over the past 30 years, advancements in HIV/AIDS therapy have saved millions of people, with retroviral treatments allowing people to live out full lives.

However, despite massive investment and research effort, less progress has been made to tackle chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and chronic organ failure. What’s behind this discrepancy? Individual factors. When it comes to chronic disease, no two people have the same experience. The causes are different, comorbidities can differ, and access to care can vary because of the cost and demand to convention treatment regimens.

Conventional treatments like chemotherapy have saved countless lives over the past decades, and iterative improvements and refinements have enabled progressively better outcomes. However, there is more that could be done.

In the fight against cancer, for instance, bioconvergence has immense potential to help doctors customize treatment through omics-based tumor profiling, miniaturized drug delivery, and tissue replacement.

Omics-based profiling helps doctors identify specific mutations and biomarkers in a tumor, letting them narrow down effective treatment options. Miniaturized drug delivery delivers medication to specific cancer-affected areas, without damaging the surrounding tissue. And once the tumor has been successfully removed, bioconvergence makes complete tissue replacement a reality.

Although bioconvergence as a school of thought has been around for quite a while, high costs and turnaround time have limited the success of bioconvergence-based treatments in the market, until recently.

Related developments like next-generation DNA sequencing now help to bring down cost and turnaround time on bioconvergence-based treatment approaches. Sequencing helps doctors identify underlying genetic risk factors. It also allows researchers to rapidly identify different types of cancers and pathogens.

Rapid genome sequencing is one of the reasons that multiple COVID-19 vaccines were developed so quickly.

Rapid genome sequencing is one of the reasons that multiple COVID-19 vaccines were developed so quickly.

Bioconvergence as an industry

Enabling flexibility, rapid iteration, and cost savings

Bioconvergence is a major step forward for allied industries like biotech, life sciences, and even robotics. It is transforming the research and development infrastructure that’s responsible for many of this decade’s healthcare innovations.

At an industry level, bioconvergence solves a fundamental problem every biotech firm faces: Bridging the gap between molecular engineering expertise and biology.

This has a real impact on procurement and budget allocation. Engineers who actually operate (and troubleshoot!) laboratory technologies have an entirely different set of expectations and needs compared to research teams. At CELLINK, we’ve made bioconvergence a priority in order to bridge this gap, enabling flexibility and greater efficiency.

By listening to both engineers and researchers, we’ve been able to implement class-leading features in products like our BIO X 3D bioprinter. From multiple print-heads, to a ten times higher resolution, to fine-grained temperature control, BIO X was engineered to solve the problems that limited last-gen bioprinters.

Conclusion

We’ve spent most of human history imitating nature, from architecture to musical instruments, to medical treatment regimens. In today’s data-driven world, though, a new possibility has emerged: why imitate when you can integrate?

Bioconvergence is the future of healthcare, a future that promises targeted, personalized treatment, cures for illnesses, and hope for better, more accessible care worldwide. By integrating biology research with engineering expertise, by recognizing that these are two sides to the same coin, CELLINK, as the leading bioconvergence company, is pushing the industry forward and helping create the future of medicine.

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