From AI to CRISPR: 5 Trends Shaping the Life Sciences Industry in 2024

9-10 Minutes

Success in Life Sciences is driven by innovation, the key ingredient that has transformed th...

By Emily Davies

Senior Content Writer

Success in Life Sciences is driven by innovation, the key ingredient that has transformed the industry and global health time and time again. But in a landscape that witnesses new scientific breakthroughs daily, it can be challenging to discern which key trends will shape the year ahead. 

For example, suppose we reflect on the last 12 months. Who could've foreseen the challenges of 2023, such as the slump in Biotech investments, uncertainties surrounding legislative and policy changes, and the unpredictable sway of macroeconomic factors? 

Still, that's not to say there weren't significant triumphs for global health over the last year. From significant strides in cell and gene therapies to the integration of AI in clinical development, Life Sciences showcased its boundless resilience and capacity for innovation. 

As we're now firmly back into the swing of things, it got us thinking: how are industry insiders feeling about the next 12 months? 

Well, according to Deloitte's 2024 Health Care and Life Sciences Outlook, those in Med Tech are strikingly optimistic, while the Biopharmaceutical space is understandably concerned about the increased focus on drug pricing and how this could impact their research and development, product pipeline and even existing products that are already on the market. 

The question that lingers is which trends will steer the next 12 months, propelling an ecosystem where scientific strides seamlessly translate into tangible patient benefits. As always, we're coming to you with the inside scoop, uncovering five trends set to redefine Life Sciences over the coming year, fostering a future where innovation meets impact. 


1.    We'll witness a growing focus on obesity and metabolic drugs

Over the last decade, our perception of obesity has undergone a profound shift, evolving from a mere consequence of individual lifestyle choices to being acknowledged as a complex and chronic biological disorder that warrants personalized treatment approaches. 

Looking back a few years to 2019, obesity cost the US an enormous $170 billion in excess healthcare costs, underscoring its status as a global health threat. With over 42% of American adults affected by the condition, there's a substantial gap in the market for weight loss therapeutics. In fact, analysts project that the demand for obesity treatments will reach an estimated value between $100 billion to $200 billion by the year 2030

The reason for such growth in this research area is that as we discover more about the implications of obesity, specialists emphasize that there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Consequently, due to the scale of the unmet healthcare need, the treatment landscape is dynamically expanding and evolving. 

Already, we've seen clinical evidence showcasing the cardiovascular benefits of new obesity treatments, such as Novo Nordisk's Wegovy and Eli Lilly's Mounjaro, and now everyone wants a piece of the pie. Over 143 new molecules are in clinical development, and eight global Pharmaceutical companies are crafting their own versions of GLP-1 and GIP receptors, which have been proven to help weight loss by suppressing appetite and regulating energy balance. 

With interest in obesity research surging, whispers in the industry suggest that this burgeoning field could soon compete with oncology as Pharma's biggest subsector. At the moment, at least six large-scale clinical trials on obesity drugs are poised to report results over the next 12 months. Still, we're sure even more will come to light throughout 2024 as we delve deeper into the intricacies of this disease and the race for advancements intensifies. 


2.    AI and machine learning will become standard working norms

This time last year, the concept of generative AI was a distant whisper. Then, springtime rolled around, and ChatGPT burst onto the scene, turning that whisper into a dominating conversation across the industry. Fast forward to today, and AI has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of business operations, solidifying itself as a standard tool for countless Life Sciences companies. 

See, in the wake of ChatGPT's meteoric rise, the Life Sciences industry eagerly embraced generative AI. It found its place in drug discovery and seamlessly integrated into various stages of clinical development. This year, as these technologies continue to evolve and become increasingly more sophisticated, we anticipate their widespread adoption into even more critical processes – think diagnostics, imaging, clinical trial design and launch strategies. 

Over 2023, many Life Sciences companies experimented with AI and machine learning to identify use cases. This year, according to Deloitte's 2024 Health Care and Life Sciences Outlook, more than 90% of BioPharma and Med Tech respondents anticipate the technology's influence on their organizations, with the focus shifting towards finding ways the technology could automate repetitive back-office functions, reimagine supply chains and support compliance and regulatory affairs. 

Governance is also a key priority, with Deloitte's 2024 outlook revealing that 25% of BioPharmas have already established structures for generative AI, and an additional 50% are expected to follow suit within the next 12 months. Notably, almost 70% of BioPharmas are prioritizing using generative AI for research and discovery in 2024. 

In the parallel world of Med Tech, executives are catching up, with 20% having governance and oversight structures in place and 56% expecting to establish them this year. A significant 50% of Med Tech businesses highlight that generative AI for research and discovery will be a top priority for 2024. Adding another layer to the narrative in the Med Tech world, Deloitte's Medtech Digital Innovation survey reveals that more than 80% of Med Tech leaders are funneling their largest digital investments toward AI, underscoring the sector's clear commitment to technological advancement. 

Overall, this trend may be the most anticipated for the next year, but naturally, as the scope of AI and machine learning applications broadens, so do the contours of regulatory frameworks. Companies must remain vigilant, navigating the twists and turns to maintain their competitive edge in this rapidly evolving landscape. As we see it, AI's uprising will reshape the Life Sciences industry for years to come. 


3.    More attention will be geared toward health equity

In the last months of 2022, a crucial step toward addressing health disparities took shape with the enactment of a pivotal Public Law Act aimed at diversifying clinical trials. This legislative initiative stemmed from a multi-year FDA study that revealed that nearly 80% of clinical trial participants were white, perpetuating a systemic lack of diversity in research. What's more, it was also found that less than 20% of approved drugs had data evaluating their impact on Black patients. 

While the spotlight on health equity has been steadily growing, the business case for reducing health inequities is also becoming increasingly clear alongside its moral imperative. To demonstrate, Deloitte's 2024 Health Care and Life Sciences Outlook found that 60% of BioPharma executives and 57% of Med Tech executives view addressing health equity not only as a moral obligation but as a strategic necessity shaping their business decisions and initiatives throughout 2024.

On top of that, Deloitte's 2024 Health Equity Outlook reports that half of the health equity leaders and Life Sciences executives they surveyed expect to increase investments in health equity in 2024, with 80% establishing health equity as a top ten business goal for the next 12 months.

Although it's been a long time coming, the emphasis on inclusivity and diverse data gathering is not just a regulatory formality but a transformative strategy Life Sciences businesses are actively embracing. Ensuring clinical trials and research encompass a more representative cross-section of the population only means that more equitable products and services will be developed.  

The rationale behind these efforts is crystal clear: improving global health outcomes by addressing the diverse needs of individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. Plus, beyond regulatory compliance, this approach fosters a more comprehensive understanding of how medical interventions impact different populations. 

By redefining industry standards, the envisioned outcome is twofold. Firstly, embracing inclusivity and diversity should improve health outcomes for a broader patient spectrum, ensuring that new therapies are accessible and beneficial for all. Secondly, there are tangible business benefits, positioning Life Sciences companies as leaders that are not just profit-driven but genuinely committed to societal well-being. What we must remember, however, is that health equity is a long-term effort, so while we might not see immediate results, ongoing commitment to inclusivity will see healthcare transcend its current boundaries. 


4.    CRISPR technology will continue to revolutionize cell and gene therapies

As the curtain fell on 2023, a groundbreaking medical milestone illuminated the Life Sciences landscape – the FDA granted approval for Casgevy, the first-ever CRISPR-based treatment for sickle cell disease. This landmark achievement propelled progress for those grappling with sickle cell disease and catapulted CRISPR therapies into the limelight, cementing its status as one of Pharma's busiest and brightest frontiers. 

The innovative potential of CRISPR technology has sparked a flurry of research and development activity, with experts predicting a steady wave of novel new treatments. These therapies are expected to address a range of genetic disorders by either knocking out multiple genes, suppressing or upregulating specific genes, or inserting new copies of faulty genes.

So far, over 1,500 gene therapy assets are already in clinical trials, and an additional 2,800 are expected to begin clinical development within the next 2-5 years. This influx not only expands our repertoire of potential treatments but expedites their time to market, creating more opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of the interplay between the genome, proteins and cellular functions and how they can be manipulated to reduce or extinguish the symptoms of genetic diseases. 

Moreover, an increased presence of CRISPR cell and gene therapies entering the market holds the promise of lower costs, potentially creating access for a broader patient spectrum. This signifies a positive shift, ensuring that more individuals who stand to benefit from these treatments can readily access them.

On top of that, dedicated researchers are working hard to engineer therapies that exhibit greater efficacy and boast improved safety profiles and more streamlined manufacturing processes. The industry's relentless pursuit of precision in gene-editing technologies is not just about refining treatments; it's about making them more effective for patients. 

Speaking of, Michelle Fraser, Head of Cell and Gene Therapy at Revvity, provides valuable insights into the trajectory of 2024, foreseeing substantial strides in gene modulation technologies. According to Fraser, the industry is set for a surge in the adoption of more intricate gene-editing approaches, signaling a year marked by significant advancements in both the refinement and application of these transformative technologies. So, as the cell and gene therapy landscape continues to evolve, propelled by the success of CRISPR-based therapies, 2024 is expected to be a busy one in the ongoing treatment of genetic disorders.


5.    Oncology will continue finding new ways to tackle cancer cells

In the expansive realm of Pharmaceuticals, oncology has long stood as the industry's most significant subsector, where thousands of dedicated researchers tirelessly explore ways to combat the complexities of cancer. And progress has been made, as marked by the 33% drop in cancer mortality rates since 1991. Yet, the landscape is evolving – no longer is there an expectation of a single cure. Instead, patients are set to receive treatment tailored to their own unique needs. 

2023 stood as a testament to this progress, with the FDA greenlighting 45 oncology approvals, including 17 new drugs. We witnessed the progression of immunotherapies, targeted therapies and precision medicine. Immunotherapies, particularly immune checkpoint inhibitors, have rewritten the rules of cancer treatment by leveraging the body's immune system to recognize and eradicate cancer cells. Simultaneously, targeted therapies, precision-guided by specific molecular pathways, have achieved unprecedented success in tackling certain types of cancer. 

On top of that, spurred by the success of mRNA vaccines to protect against COVID-19, we've seen personalized vaccines gain greater attention, stimulating a patient's immune system to attack cancer cells. While personalized vaccines can be costly, the oncology sector is poised to push these boundaries even further this year. That's due to genomic profiling and molecular diagnostics arming clinicians with the ability to decode the intricate genetic landscape of individual tumors, paving the way for more tailored and effective treatment strategies. 

Speaking of vaccines, Catherine J. Wu, professor at Harvard Medical School and chair of the Dana-Farber Institute, predicts that the next 12 months will bring developments in vaccines targeting shared neoantigens that could quicker be administered to a far greater number of patients. Wu also foresees researchers treating diverse tumor types, combining vaccines with other immunotherapies, and evaluating cancer vaccines in large, industry-sponsored Phase II clinical trials.

As the year unfolds, ongoing research, clinical trials and technological innovations promise not only more effective treatments but to redefine cancer care. The hope is not just to inch forward but to witness a significant drop in the mortality rate, surpassing the 33% progress achieved thus far. 



In the ever-evolving landscape of Life Sciences, 2024 is set to be a crucial year defined by transformative trends. From advancements in obesity treatments and cancer therapies to the revolutionary impact of CRISPR technology and AI, as always, innovation is at the forefront. 

As the industry moves forward, the overarching theme of ongoing research, clinical trials, and technological strides paints a hopeful picture of a future where healthcare is not only more effective and accessible but precisely tailored to meet the unique needs of each patient.  

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