17 Nov 2022

In the simplest and broadest sense, Biotechnology is a series of enabling technologies, which involves the manipulation of living organisms or their subcellular components to develop useful products, processes or services. Biotechnology encompasses a wide range of fields, including the life sciences, chemistry, agriculture, environmental science, medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, and computer science. The manipulation of living organisms is one of the principal tools of modern biotechnology. Although biotechnology in the broadest sense is not new, what is new, however, is the level of complexity and precision involved in scientists’ current ability to manipulate living things, making such manipulation predictable, precise, and controlled. The umbrella of biotechnology encompasses a broad array of technologies, including recombinant DNA technology, embryo manipulation and transfer, monoclonal antibody production, and bioprocess engineering, the principle technology associated with the term is recombinant DNA technology or genetic engineering. This technique can be used to enhance the ability of an organism to produce a particular chemical product (penicillin from fungus), to prevent it from producing a product (polygalacturanase in plant cells) or to enable an organism to produce an entirely new product (insulin in microbes). To date the greatest and most notable impact of biotechnology has been in the medical and pharmaceutical arena. More than 325 million people worldwide have been helped by the more than 155 biotechnology drugs and vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Of the biotech medicines on the market, 70 percent were approved in the last six years. There are more than 370 biotech drug products and vaccines currently in clinical trials targeting more than 200 diseases, including various cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and arthritis. The use of biotechnology to produce molecules of therapeutic value constitutes an important advancement in medical science. Medications developed through biotechnology techniques have earned the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in patients who have cancer, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis B, and Kaposi’s sarcoma. Biotechnology drugs are used to treat invasive fungal infections, pulmonary embolisms, ischemic strokes, kidney transplant rejection, infertility, growth hormone deficiency, and other serious disorders. Medications have also been developed to improve the health of animals. Scientists are currently investigating applications of advanced gene therapy, a technology that may one day be used to pinpoint and rectify hereditary disorders.

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