5 Crucial Biotech and Big Pharma Research and Development Trends for 2021


If 2020 is the year of our epidemiological Pearl Harbor, 2021 is the year we mobilize our forces to win the war.

In 2021, biotech companies and Big Pharma will investigate new drug technologies and vaccination techniques. Unprecedented public-private partnerships, and an influx of money, will lead to an efflorescence of new drug and biomedical discoveries.

Let’s take a look at five important research and development trends for 2021.

1. Vaccine Research

The war against the COVID-19 pandemic will occupy most biotechnology and pharmaceutical efforts in 2021.

The pharmaceutical industry has already mobilized in unprecedented fashion to develop a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this year, or early 2021. There are several promising candidates, including Oxford’s adenovirus vaccine, Moderna’s mRNA vaccine, and genomic and inactivated pathogen vaccine trials.

In 2021, we can expect many more. The nature of the pandemic, the first in the era of modern technology, has prompted an all-out arms race. The imperative for drug funding initiatives and biotech companies will be an accelerated development of new vaccine technology.

And 2021 may well be the year that new vaccine techniques are created, that will revolutionize disease treatment for decades to come.

2. Next-Gen Computing

Another research and development trend in 2021 will be the use of advanced computing technology.

This has been underway for decades, but recent advancements have accelerated this trend in dramatic ways. For instance, AI and machine learning algorithms are set to change biotech and the pharmaceutical industry in ways we can scarcely imagine.

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In 2021, we will see the increased deployment of big data computing to analyze vast amounts of drug data. New drugs and treatments will be developed in a fraction of the time it once took.

3. New Genetic and Cellular Therapies

One of the more important trends in pharmaceutical development is customized, targeted therapeutics.

Rather than a generalized, broadcast approach, cellular and gene therapies are designed for bespoke treatments, tailored to a specific individual. This is a promising avenue of research, and 2021 will undoubtedly witness the coming-of-age of personalized medicine.

4. Resurrected Drugs

Another important avenue for biotech research and development in 2021 is the examination of discarded drugs.

This involves the further development of drugs that have been abandoned by pharmaceutical firms. Companies like Roivant, founded by Vivek Ramaswamy, investigate discarded experimental drugs, and develop those that have promise.

5. Monoclonal Antibodies

Expect to see further research in monoclonal antibodies and biosimilars in 2021.

Monoclonal antibodies are synthetic antibodies, which can provoke, restore, or complement an immune system’s response. They are especially useful against cancer cells and used to deliver targeted drugs to specific cells. Think of them as guided missiles or smart bombs in the war against cancer.

Biosimilars involve using biological compounds to mimic the effects of name-brand drugs, but at a greatly reduced cost. This could lower the cost of experimental drugs and expand healthcare.

2021 Will Be the Year of Biotech

These are just a few of the exciting biotech and pharmaceutical trends we can expect to see in 2021. The race is on to develop a COVID-19 vaccine – but the collateral benefits that accrue to human healthcare will resonate far beyond 2021.

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