BioWorld by Clarivate Identifies the Top Six Global Biopharmaceutical Stories and Trends of 2021

Advances in Alzheimer’s, innovation in DNA vaccines, increased regulatory collaboration and the evolving impact of Artificial Intelligence, join Covid-19 as key stories and trends of 2021

London, December 16, 2021 – BioWorld published by Clarivate Plc (NYSE:CLVT), a global leader in providing trusted information and insights to accelerate the pace of innovation, has announced the six most important biopharmaceutical stories and trends of 2021. BioWorld is a suite of award-winning news services delivering actionable intelligence on the most innovative therapeutics and medical technologies in development. Each year, BioWorld’s team of editors and analysts review and assess the market-moving and life-changing stories and trends of the year. This year, BioWorld found therapeutics for Alzheimer’s, innovation in DNA vaccines and the evolution of Artificial Intelligence among some of the most pivotal stores and trends of 2021.

Despite the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on nearly every industry, the biopharmaceutical industry remained resilient and responsive. While the industry seemed focused on bringing COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics to patients with record-breaking speed, in 2021, the work continued and progressed on other fronts, including technology, the development of human therapeutics, financing and more. In addition, there were multiple notable “firsts,” including the first DNA vaccine. The top stories and trends of 2021 identified by BioWorld, are: ​

  1. COVID-19 impacts everything – Out of this global pandemic, great science and powerful revenues have emerged. In 2021, progress on preventing and treating COVID-19 was an endless series of starts and stalls. Despite seemingly insurmountable struggles, science and finance took startling steps forward. While biopharma companies across the world collaborated to develop and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, the pandemic highlighted supply chain weaknesses, spurring demands in many countries for more domestic manufacturing and less reliance on production in other countries. As a result, governments embraced efforts to strengthen their own biopharma manufacturing capabilities, looking to lessen dependence on other countries for essential medicine.To learn more on how the supply chain has evolved this year to address challenges of COVID-19 faced by biopharmaceutical industry, listen to the BioWorld Insider Podcast: Supply Chain Geeky: Managing through the challenges of COVID-19 with an eye to what’s at stake, here.
  1. The ongoing efforts to cure Alzheimer’s disease – The FDA’s accelerated drug approval of Aduhelm, the first plaque-targeting therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, garnered much attention in 2021- impacting regulators and the market. While the picture is unclear for other Alzheimer’s disease prospects, the development of vaccines and treatments for the prevention of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease remain a top priority.To learn more on the impact of Aduhelm on the industry listen to the BioWorld Insider Podcast: Aduhelm’s hard lessons and what it means for other Alzheimer’s drugs, here.
  1. Artificial intelligence as an inventor – This year, Australia attracted international attention in July when a Federal Court ruled that artificial intelligence (AI) can be named as the inventor of a patent. In Thaler v. Commissioner of Patents, Federal Court Justice Jonathan Beach ruled that under Australian patent law, inventors don’t necessarily have to be human. The case overturns an earlier decision made by the Australian Commissioner of Patents that rejected Stephen Thaler’s patent application for his computer program, Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience (DABUS), an artificial neural system.To learn more on whether this ruling on artificial intelligence as an inventor may trigger others to follow suit, listen to the BioWorld Insider Podcast: What happens when your inventor is artificial intelligence, here.
  1. Regulatory upheavals, and more – While COVID-19 continued to force regulatory officials to face ongoing political and logistical pressures in dealing with drug and vaccine approvals, mergers and acquisitions, manufacturing issues and demands for pricing reforms, these challenges spurred regulatory cooperation. The pandemic exposed fault lines in preparedness for health emergencies with politics, pricing and personalities creating regulatory challenges. Despite these issues, a number of regulatory efforts emerged in 2021, aimed at encouraging companies to develop novel drugs.
    To review this year’s regulatory highlights and learn how, from COVID-19 and cancer to Aduhelm and the broader health care ecosystem, so much has changed, listen to the BioWorld Insider Podcast: Regulatory Gemish: COVID-19’s big impacts on the FDA and beyond, here.
  1. Record amounts of money flow into biopharma – Research shows the volume and value of both public (IPOs) and private (venture capital) financings are at their highest levels in 2021. Fueled by the pandemic from a business financial perspective, it could be the second-best year ever for the industry. In 2021, R&D continued to drive investment. While SPACs dominated, crowding, rising burn rates, new rules and regulations threatened success.To learn more about the record year for biopharma fundraising and where the financing is heading in 2022, listen to the BioWorld Insider Podcast: Another record year for biopharma financings bodes well for 2022, here.
  1. The firsts: DNA vaccines arrive, while KRAS drugs and CAR T-cell therapies break new ground in cancer – There was no slowing of biopharma innovation in 2021, even as the industry directed significant resources to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The year saw big wins for developers of DNA vaccines and biosimilars, while CAR T expanded its reach and a drug target once considered undruggable was finally conquered. As 2021 gives way to 2022, other potentially game-changing technologies and therapeutics are waiting in the wings.

Lynn Yoffee, Publisher, BioWorld said: “Without a doubt, COVID-19 shook humanity to the core, again. And like glioblastoma, the tentacles of COVID-19 invaded far beyond the obvious and ultimately changed the world. So that’s our top story of the year. But the biopharma sector is adaptable and responsive. Even though there were tectonic shifts in efforts to bring an armamentarium of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics to patients with record-breaking speed, a great deal of work continued on many other fronts, because people are still getting sick with cancer, succumbing to diseases like Alzheimer’s and issues such as the battle over drug prices rage on. Technology is advancing at speeds that only technology such as artificial intelligence can keep pace with. BioWorld’s writers and editors have provided not only a look back, but critical perspective on what these top stories mean for the year ahead.”

Join the conversation, use hashtag #2021biopharmatrends and mention BioWorld on Twitter and Clarivate for Life Sciences & Healthcare on Twitter and LinkedIn.

For more exclusive, in-depth analysis of the top biopharma stories and trends of 2021, visit, here.

With writers and editors stationed around the globe, BioWorld published by Clarivate, reports the breaking news – and provides key perspective on hundreds of therapeutics and devices in development, the companies behind those candidates, the business development transactions that evolve the markets, and the regulatory hurdles that both challenge and guard the processes. BioWorld has a long tradition of excellence in journalism. Collectively, the news services have been honored with 63 awards dating back to 1998, including 15 for our daily news services.


About Clarivate

Clarivate™ is a global leader in providing solutions to accelerate the lifecycle of innovation. Our bold mission is to help customers solve some of the world’s most complex problems by providing actionable information and insights that reduce the time from new ideas to life-changing inventions in the areas of science and intellectual property. We help customers discover, protect and commercialize their inventions using our trusted subscription and technology-based solutions coupled with deep domain expertise. For more information, please visit

Media Contact:
Catherine Daniel



Subscribe to our news

Let's stay in touch. Subscribe to our latest announcements.