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Biotechnology: An Overview

by | Mar 19, 2022 | Biotechnology, Biotechnology Basics

Definition 

Biotechnology is the application of biology to the resolution of problems and the creation of beneficial goods. The most common method is genetic engineering, which allows scientists to manipulate an organism’s DNA.

Biotechnology is a science-based enterprise that creates healthcare items by combining biological creatures and molecular biology. Biotechnology corporations also developed therapeutics and techniques (such as DNA fingerprinting). 

Biotechnology is known for its use in medicine and pharmaceuticals. The field is also used in genomics, food production, and biofuel generation.

Biotechnology is a field of applied science that makes items and processes out of living organisms and their derivatives. Healthcare, medicine, biofuels, and environmental safety use these items and procedures.

The term “biotechnology” refers to various processes for changing biological organisms. Going back to the domestication of animals, plant cultivation, and “improvements” to these for human uses. Using genetic engineering techniques and hybridization in breeding projects.

Biotechnology an overview

Historical Background 

Biotechnology is a phrase that describes molecular and cellular technologies. These emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. In the mid-to-late 1970s, a budding “biotech” sector emerged, led by Genentech, a pharmaceutical firm discovered in 1976 by Robert A. Swanson and Herbert W.

Paul Berg’s (Stanford) gene-splicing experiments were a big hit in 1971. In 1972, Herbert W. Boyer (UCSF) and Stanley N. Cohen (Stanford) made substantial advances in the new technique by transferring genetic material into a bacterium, replicating the imported material.

 Boyer to commercialize the recombinant DNA technology pioneered by Boyer, Paul Berg, and Stanley N. Cohen. Genentech, Amgen, Biogen, Cetus, and Genex were among the first businesses to produce genetically altered molecules, especially for medicinal and environmental applications.

The financial viability of the biotechnology sector was considerably increased on June 16, 1980, when the United States Supreme Court determined in Diamond v. Chakrabarty that a genetically modified microbe might be patented. 

 Working with General Electric, Indian-born Ananda Chakrabarty developed a bacterium (of the species Pseudomonas) capable of breaking down crude oil, which he offered to employ to treat oil spills. (Chakrabarty’s study involved the transfer of whole organelles across Pseudomonas bacteria strains rather than gene modification.)

Recombinant insulin was the first genetically engineered product to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1982. (FDA). Since then, hundreds of genetically modified protein therapies, such as recombinant growth hormone, clotting factors, and clot-dissolving agents, have been sold worldwide.

Technology and Applications of Biotechnology

Techniques

Some of the great techniques in biotechnology. Which have been big achievements for mankind are: 

DNA Fingerprinting: DNA fingerprinting is a well-established forensic method that has been successfully utilized as evidence in rape cases in the courts.

Gene Cloning: The creation of identical animals, plants, or microbes from a single individual is known as cloning.

Genetic Engineering: It is the process that modifies an organism’s genes (hereditary material) or combinations of genes.

Bioreactors: Bioreactors are tanks that enable a biological process to be carried out under ideal circumstances, resulting in enormous volumes of a valuable chemical.

Tissue Culture: Individual cells divide and develop in a bath of sterile, nutritive fluid that typically contains hormones and growth chemicals.

Applications

Biotechnology has applications in 4 major industrial areas:

  • health care (medical) 
  • crop production and agriculture
  • non-food (industrial) uses of crops and other products (e.g., biodegradable plastics, vegetable oil, biofuels),  
  • environmental uses 

Medicines – Modern biotechnology has a wide range of uses in medicine. Some examples are medication discovery and manufacture, pharmacogenomics, and genetic testing (or genetic screening).

Agriculture – Agricultural plants that have had their DNA changed using genetic engineering techniques are genetically modified crops (or “biotech crops”).In most situations, the primary goal is to introduce a new characteristic that does not exist in the species naturally. By enhancing the nutrition and viability of urban agriculture, biotechnology companies can contribute to future food security.

Industries –  Industrial biotechnology (sometimes known as white biotechnology in Europe) is biotechnology for industrial applications, such as fermentation. It refers to the utilization of cells, such as bacteria or cell components. Enzymes produce industrially valuable products in industries such as chemicals, food and feed, detergents, paper and pulp, textiles, and biofuels.

Environment – Environmental biotechnology encompasses a wide range of disciplines. These contribute to reducing environmental waste and the development of environmentally friendly technologies such as biofiltration and biodegradation.

application of biotechnology

Scope and Importance of Biotechnology

Biotechnology is sought to the use of technology in biology, molecular biology, genetics, and various other biological subfields. Biotechnology is the utilization of cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that benefit both humans and the environment. 

Humankind has been doing this for a long period of time by manufacturing useful foods like bread and cheese and storing dairy products. 

Recent biotechnology has produced ground-breaking goods and technologies to combat illnesses. Decrease environmental damage food security, use less and cleaner energy, and create safer, cleaner, and more efficient industrial production processes.

More than 250 biotechnology health care items and vaccines have been made accessible to patients so far. Many of them are for previously untreatable diseases.

More than 13.3 million farmers employ agricultural biotechnology. To increase yields, eliminate bug and pest damage, and lessen the environmental impact of agriculture across the world.

Also, more than 50 biorefineries are being constructed across North America. It is for testing and enhancing methods for producing biofuels and chemicals from renewable biomass. Which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Different Branches of Biotechnology

Biotechnology is divided into five divisions based on their applications: 

  • Animal Biotechnology

It is concerned with creating transgenic animals with improved milk or meat output and disease resistance. It also covers in vitro fertilization of eggs and embryo transfer to a female animal’s womb for subsequent growth. Humans have practiced selective breeding since the dawn of agriculture. The process entails pairing together animals with the most desired attributes.

  • Plant Biotechnology 

Plant biotechnology is concerned with creating genetically modified plants to increase agricultural production. Also, to provide plants characteristics that help them develop under stressful environments, such as those with weather and pests.

  • Medical Biotechnology 

Medical biotechnology is the application of live cells and other biological resources to improve human health. It is mostly utilized to locate remedies, as well as to eliminate and prevent illnesses. The science involved involves using these techniques in research to develop new or more efficient ways to preserve human health and study infections and human cell biology.

  • Industrial Biotechnology

Implementing biotechnology for industrial applications, which includes industrial processes, is known as industrial biotechnology. Using modern molecular biology techniques improves efficiency and reduces the many environmental effects of industrial operations such as paper and pulp, chemical manufacturing, and textile manufacturing.

  • Environmental Biotechnology

Environmental biotechnology is used in waste treatment and pollution prevention strategies that may effectively clean up a variety of pollutants while reducing our dependence on land-based disposal techniques.

To increase the activity of bacteria currently present in the soil or to introduce new microorganisms, environmental engineers give nutrients to waste sites.

Global Market and Biotech Products

The worldwide biotechnology market reached USD 1,006.68 billion in 2021, up from USD 752.88 billion in 2020.

From 2021 to 2028, the worldwide biotechnology market is predicted to increase at a compound yearly growth rate of 15.83 percent, reaching USD 2,438.90 billion.

Because of the strong penetration of biotechnology solutions in healthcare systems and the commercial success of molecular diagnostics in illness management. Health-related applications led the biotechnology market with a share of 48.64 percent in 2020.

Favorable government efforts, falling sequencing prices, increased market demand for synthetic biology, and rising R&D investment by both public and private agencies are all propelling the biotechnology business forward.

In 2020, the health application category accounted for 48.64 percent of the market, which is likely to continue throughout the forecast period. 

The rising frequency of illnesses is mostly to blame for the segment’s expansion. Furthermore, a growing focus on agri-biotech and delivering bio-services increased acceptance of bioinformatics solutions, and a thriving bio-industrial sector contribute to segment growth.

 

Author

  • The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.

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