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The Future is in Life Sciences

Welcome to the wonderful, wacky world of the future. It’s a world where you will be able to take a prophylactic cholesterol pill so that you can continue to eat big steaks; a world where drugs will be sold through Tupperware parties; a world where you will have drugs made to order for your genotype.

Watts Wacker, world-renowned futurist, welcomed us to the Post-Information Society. He explained how societies had specific organizing principles. Unlike the Information Society we are leaving, which is organized on the principle of complexity, the Post-Information Society is organized on paradox. This new society is organized on the ability to move in two discrete directions at the same time. “In the United States, two-thirds of the people believe in both evolution and creation,” said Wacker. What can get more paradoxical than that?

Wacker went on to say that we are moving from the dominance of information technologies to the dominance of creation technologies. In other words, “the future is in the life sciences.”

What’s all of this mean for Pharma? Instead of a “disease model” healthcare is moving to a model based on “well-being.” Improving on Mother Nature will be the next big thing; smart pills for memory improvement; nose spray for correcting a decline in olfactory cells; gene therapy for new bone formation. Pharmacogenomics will provide personalized preventive medicines. Protein kinase research is already showing us how to turn cells “on” and “off.” Research in neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to form new neural pathways — will lead to techniques such as meditation being used to alter the physical matter of the brain. Drugs will help us remember what we don’t want to forget and forget what we don’t want to remember. Cognitive neuroimaging — identifying patterns of brain activity during the thinking process — will identify what’s going on in the brain when we evaluate products and allow marketers to make an irresistible product.

All this change is based on innovation, and innovation, says Wacker “is a defiant act.” “Listen to the person who comes with the questions,” he advised. It’s a new game. Will you be a player?

Jadzia Jagiellowicz is the principal of The Medanalyses Group, a medical writing business.