Bioengineering: the driving force to accelerate clinical translation
How can the clinical translation of research findings be accelerated to improve human health? What role does bioengineering play in driving the development of medicine and biology solutions? Matthias Tschöp, CEO at Helmholtz Munich and Alexander von Humboldt professor at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Vasilis Ntziachristos, Director of the Institute of Biological and Medical Imaging at Helmholtz Munich and Chair of Biological Imaging at the Technical University Munich (TUM) and Stephen Quake, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Stanford University and Head of Science at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, have taken a closer look at the role of bioengineering in biomedical research – their perspective has now been published in Nature Reviews Bioengineering.
The microscope, genome sequencing or artificial intelligence: Three examples that impressively demonstrate how technological breakthroughs can drive biological discoveries. The synergy between biology, medicine and technology has dramatically increased the rate of discoveries. However, clinical translation remains slow and expensive, focusing mainly on drug discovery through clinical trials. Arguably, the bioengineering discipline has huge potential to become the driving force for the introduction of new concepts for validation, prevention, diagnostics, and precision therapy. For this, Engineers should embrace bio-medical research with a solution-oriented mindset to develop tools and concepts, more rapidly translating the transformation of knowledge into medical solutions.
In the current issues of Nature Reviews Bioengineering, Tschöp, Ntziachristos, and Quake shed light on their visions for better promotion of bioengineering for the acceleration of clinical translation. One major goal should be to invest more into the education and training of problem-solving bioengineers, as engineers are trained to develop tools that improve, accelerate and reduce the costs in biomedical research. In addition, as the early detection of diseases could be a game changer in health monitoring, the authors emphasize the need to intensify advances in next-generation biosensor technologies, imaging methods and liquid biopsies, to name a few concrete routes to success. To achieve individualized disease characterization, omics information should be combined with continuous reporting on the actual disease status, which can be provided by technological solutions, such as portable biosensors. Engineering solutions are therefore crucial to improve the efficiency by which new discoveries and hypotheses are validated for clinical use. Other examples are human cell engineering and human organ-on-a-chip technologies, that begin to reduce – in the future possibly replace – ill-informed cell culture or animal models and costly trial-and-error clinical trials. Naturally at this focal point in time – integrating and leveraging large biomedical datasets would fall short if not empowered by concepts and tangible tools of Biomedical AI – overall promising a revolution of biomedicine at our fingertips that ultimately will benefit patients and society at large.
Moving forward, Tschöp, Ntziachristos, and Quake emphasize the urgent need to focus on Bioengineering and Biomedical AI to transform Biomedicine, by taking bold steps at all levels, including policymakers, funding agencies, educators, and scientists.
Read the full Comment: https://www.nature.com/articles/s44222-022-00015-3
About the scientific authors:
Prof. Dr. med. Dr. h.c. Matthias H. Tschöp, CEO and scientific director at Helmholtz Munich and Alexander von Humboldt professor at the Technical University of Munich (TUM)
Prof. Dr. Vasilis Ntziachristos, Director of the Institute for Biological and Medical Imaging at Helmholtz Munich and Chair of Biological Imaging at the Central Institute for Translational Cancer Research (TranslaTUM) of the Technical University Munich (TUM)
Prof. Dr. Stephen Quake, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Stanford University and Head of Science at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative