The key ingredients for a controlled biological experiment haven’t changed much throughout the course of history: variable and control groups for experimentation, and the ability to verify outcomes through repetition. What has changed are the ways in which we fulfill those important pillars for experimentation.
Scientists have better access to biological samples, enabling a wider range of testing without direct human or animal subjects to work with until much further into the production of a potential cure. Technology is improving much of this work, from long-term storage and confidentiality to improved costs and access to a wider audience.
Improved Storage and Security
What if you worked for a pharmaceutical company on a potential breakthrough cure? If you needed to store that cure long term, in order to observe the effects of your work, you would need some way to do so without risking that work leaking to someone else. PBMMI.com is one of many companies that specialize in this kind of work, and their strategy involves several points: location, uptime, and maintenance.
Thanks to advances in weather forecasting, and improvements in backup power generation, these companies can provide remote storage in isolated units with several layers of backup power to protect an experiment in progress for several years without incident.
Improved storage opens the door for new observations of long-term effects that might have been difficult before without human experimentation. Fewer lives are put at risk to achieve medical breakthroughs when science has more time to observe.
Researchers at Stanford have figured out how to provide access to scientific experimentation at the elementary school level. Interactive science, performed over the internet, would allow students to watch an experiment they conduct unfold in real time through video feeds. Learning from actual scientists, using real equipment remotely, it is hoped that the way children think about science will be reshaped entirely.
Passive learning doesn’t generate much interest, so interactivity offers the opportunity to excite more young minds. It also provides real-world context, which is an important part of growth. You can better execute on the knowledge you have when you understand its real-world context.
Already, the experiments are inspiring passionate conversation and lots of exploration. Students want to see how their actions can affect the world around them, and biological experimentation is an excellent way to provide measurable results of those effects.
When scientists want to find a cure for a particular disease, they need to work with a large volume of samples to be sure of results. More data is always better. However, live samples are expensive and hard to find. For a variety of reasons, those costs have gotten lower.
Better solutions for storage have certainly contributed, as more samples have a longer shelf life for sale and experimentation, but synthetics are also helping.
Because we understand how to sequence and read DNA, we can synthesize samples that are much lower cost than the real thing. We can also combine live cells from plants, or other biological material, in order to create samples as good as the real thing. This allows us to verify a lot of the work we do, without the costs typically associated with that kind of research.
The shift toward a bio economy is possible thanks to many technological advancements. Lower costs in computing have certainly contributed a great deal in the past few decades. However, funding still fluctuates at the government and academic level.
Yunas Chaudhry is a super-connector with AYC Web Solutions who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, Photography, branding and networking. He frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses his efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.