Life sciences and their study are instrumental to the human experience. As individuals, we can often take for granted the various impacts of technological and scientific breakthroughs on our quality of life, whether the treatment of the water that comes from our taps or the quality of complex medicines we take to treat illness.
Life sciences, as a conglomerate field, encompass all manner of human and biological fields. Scientists, healthcare systems, tech start-ups and charitable organisations all fit within life sciences to improve quality of life and seek meaningful contributions. What are some of the larger breakthroughs in life science that we have seen recently?
AI and Drug Development
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has been receiving a great deal of publicity in recent years, as commercial AI models have demonstrated the sheer rate of progress in the field. This rate of progress is reflected in life science just as well as in other industries, with AI models working to dramatically accelerate the development of pharmaceutical products. AI is currently being used to explore protein structures at speed, in order to expedite the design of new and effective drugs for different conditions.
AI is a unique development on a wider level, and one which many believe to be the heralding of a new technological revolution. In terms of life science, and in practical terms, AI has some way to go – and also presents some intriguing legal issues for those in the medical or pharmaceutical sector. The ‘black box’ functionality of many AI systems can also make it difficult for researchers and practitioners to fully understand how conclusions are drawn, introducing a new form of uncertainty alongside the potential for breakneck progress.
One of life sciences’ greatest puzzles has been that of the human life-span – specifically, what exactly contributes to its length, and how we might extend it. This breakthrough indirectly addresses this puzzle, through expanding our understanding of the way lifespans can be metrically investigated.
The term ‘aging clock’ describes a biological mechanism that can be used to accurately ‘date’ a person. Multilateral development in the field has been instrumental in improving understanding of the metrics behind biological deterioration, and also improving predictions for future illness and infirmity. Further development of understanding using an accurate aging clock can also assist in the development of life-extending treatments.
A Vaccine for Malaria
Malaria is a devastating disease, and one that has had a profound impact on populations around the world. The disease, delivered via mosquito bite, has been responsible for millions upon millions of deaths, with nearly 250 million cases reported each year. The mitigation of malaria impacts is one of the prevailing global challenges of our time, despite limited cultural or media discussion around the subject.
But private enterprises, publicly-funded bodies and many other organisations within life sciences have been hard at work on the problem, and the holy grail is now potentially at hand: a vaccine. Malaria is a parasitic disease as opposed to a viral or bacterial one, making vaccination a unique problem – but one that has been uniquely solved.
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