2023 predictions: Sustainability, synthetic biology & prepping for the next pandemic

With business returning to normal after three COVID-fixated years, experts looks to the potential trends and topics 2023 might bring.

Dan Stanton, Managing editor

December 21, 2022

4 Min Read
2023 predictions: Sustainability, synthetic biology & prepping for the next pandemic
Image: DepositPhotos/ doomu

With business returning to more-or-less normal after nearly three COVID-fixated years, a panel of experts looks to the potential trends and topics 2023 might bring.

Our ability to discuss and debate industry trends via online panels may be one of the silver linings from nearly three years of living and working in a COVID-influenced world, and thus the latest BioProcess Insider State of the Industry discussion took place on such a medium.

While our panel of experts spoke fluidly on topics including changing vendor and CDMO demand, and the dawning of a new era of gene therapies, the event also allowed the opportunity to speculate on what may be hot over the next 12 months.


Image: DepositPhotos/

Sustainability: Beyond the Greenwash

“One thing that we’ve seen throughout this year is more attention on overall sustainability, which is really exciting to me,” said Christopher Peterson, associate director at Latham Biopharm Group.

This applied to both commercial clients along with the many NGOs Latham works with, “specifically when they’re looking at some of the lower- and middle-income countries, and this is not just in traditional small molecules, this is also within biologics and looking at single use impact,” he added.

“My group does a lot of cost of goods modeling, facility analysis etc and now they’re not just looking for that, they’re saying ‘yeah, that’s good, we want to reduce costs, but what about the environmental impact? Can we look at that?’ So we’ve been begun to start adding that into some of our toolkits. […While] reducing costs and increasing access is great, helping out the Earth in the long term is always a nice thing as well.”

His comments resonate with the move by industry giant GSK in August, which  launched a sustainability program calling on its network of over 160 suppliers to take action on sustainability commitments. Sustainability was also discussed in detail during a panel at Biotech Week Boston in September, so expect the topic to remain at the forefront in 2023, providing our planet is still spinning.


Panelists were participating in BioProcess Insider’s State of the Industry discussion

‘Syn’ with the new

Ger Brophy, EVP of Biopharma Production at Avantor, looked to advancements in synthetic biology driven by the pandemic to determine much development in the next 12 months.

“To reflect back on COVID again, the vaccine response was immense: We had the traditional protein subunits as discussed, we had the AV [adenovirus] driven viral vectors, but of course we also had the mRNA vaccines. Now they were driven by biochemical processes, but they already were utilizing modified nucleotides.

“So I think we’ll see the envelope on synthetic biology start getting pushed in quite interesting ways as we look at how synthetic DNA, synthetic mRNA and various combinations of T7 driven processes and solid phase synthesis start delivering vaccines in other spaces.”

Brophy highlighted respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) as evidence of this – the FDA is set to give the regulatory nod, or not, to Pfizer and GSK’s respective RSV vaccines in May 2023 – but added more generally there is a resurgence in RNA interference (RNAi) and small interfering RNA (siRNA) for knock down type therapeutic indications of nucleic acid type drugs.

“And I think that will be supported by an absolute resurgence in interest in clinical trials and studies.”

(Hopefully not) the next big thing?

Upshots of the pandemic were also the starting point for Jason Slingsby, chief business & corporate development officer at Oxford Biomedica, who focused on some of the projects from various companies and NGOs that are trying to get ahead of the next pandemic threat.

“There will be some trials done to candidate pathogens and already [worked on] vaccines in case they do actually cross over into a genuine public health threat,” he said, specifically noting ongoing trials for Ebola. He added work will be done “to get better industry algorithms and public funding to try to lay the groundwork for the next thing before it’s needed. I think we’ll see some of that in ‘23, which is really, really positive.”

On a lighter note, Slingsby described himself as “unique” in looking forward to the 41st JP Morgan conference in January, as it will “be nice to be there again in person.”

The annual healthcare meeting is typically a place of major biopharma announcements, but the past couple of years have been relatively subdued with the virtual environment not striking the normal major news stories that the conference has come to represent.

But with Amgen’s $26 billion plus acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics already in motion, there may well be a slew of M&A news in January, so keep checking your inbox as BioProcess Insider is guaranteed to bring it to you as it comes.

About the Author(s)

Dan Stanton

Managing editor

Journalist covering the international biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing industries.

Founder and editor of Bioprocess Insider, a daily news offshoot of publication Bioprocess International, with expertise in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, in particular, the following niches: CROs, CDMOs, M&A, IPOs, biotech, bioprocessing methods and equipment, drug delivery, regulatory affairs and business development.

From London, UK originally but currently based in Montpellier, France through a round-a-bout adventure that has seen me live and work in Leeds (UK), London, New Zealand, and China.

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