In the 21st century, the life sciences are shaping up to be a key engine of economic growth in the United States. Major advancements are taking place on a host of life science fronts fueled by investment in research and development across the primary sectors of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostic testing products. Bioscience employment growth outpaced national employment growth from 2001-2008 and venture capital firms invested approximately $4.1 billion in bioscience companies in 2013, which was down from prior years due to the overall economy.
Pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic test manufacturers can be found in every state as well as the District of Columbia. The trend by large manufacturers, start-ups, and “virtual” companies for outsourcing many facets of their operations, including R&D, pre-clinical and clinical testing, component manufacturing, packaging, and distribution creates a growing market of medium size companies serving this industry. Combined with the constant stream of science driven technologies and innovation, companies in this industry innovate continuously, spurring new growth opportunities on a daily basis.
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We live in a time where medical technology is evolving faster than we can imagine. For that we have exceptional and dedicated scientists and researchers to thank. In 2008, the Human Microbiome Project was established, “with the mission of generating resources that would enable the comprehensive characterization of the human microbiome and analysis of its role in human health and disease.”
Digital medicine is an emerging technology which is likely to have an immensely disruptive influence on the medical device market.1 It is central to the concept of digital health, a confluence of genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, epigenomics, and biomarkers, which are enabling us to know human biology on an individual basis.2 These new digital tools are capable of recording clinical data and generating medical information, and make it possible to develop digital medicine that is more precise, effective and widely distributed than current medical practices.3 While digital medicine first emerged a few years ago as wearable devices, the newest generation of ingestible electronics will allow practitioners to diagnose, detect and monitor physiological conditions across a wide range of diagnostics and therapeutics.
The Human Genome Project (HGP), which started in 1990 and was completed in 2003, spurred a revolution in biotechnology innovation around the world. The project helped map the understanding of all human genes, and paved the way for a completely new approach to our healthcare – personalized medicine. But with any new developments, no matter how impactful, some very important questions and concerns must be raised. With personalized medicine and its associated genetic sequencing, there are ethical, social and legal implications.
Personalized medicine is transforming how physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Rather than being limited to tools featuring the same therapies to treat patients with similar or specific disorders, therapies can now be tailored to the patient’s individual characteristics and needs. Central to this new medical model is the identification and detection of biomarkers, or the molecules that occur naturally in the human body.
Can you imagine learning that the surgical instruments used in your recent medical procedure were contaminated? What a frightening prospect! That is why vigilance around maintaining appropriate levels of sterilization control is so critically important.
As medical devices have progressed towards wireless, point of care and even electronic, implantable technologies, there have been several high profile instances of devices being hacked.
Laboratories are equipped with engineering and administrative controls to ensure that pathogenic microbes are safely contained.
Pharmaceutical manufacturing involves the scientific blending and mixing of chemicals to produce specific drugs in liquid, powder or pill form. Due to the use of these chemical substances, tightly controlled security practices are critical.