The world of Biotechnology:
Biotechnology has marked its presence in medical, industrial, environmental, agricultural, forensics and many more areas directly touching the lives of human beings and is making a significant difference too.
Biotechnology applied to the medical and health care field is termed as ‘Red Biotechnology’. Intensive research in this field has not only assured a ray of hope for various life threatening diseases but has also enhanced the quality of life. Red biotechnology deals with pharmacogenomics, designing organisms to produce antibiotics and vaccines, clinical research and trials, gene therapy and diagnostics. The technology is useful in veterinary science and poultry farming as well.
This application of biotechnology is not less than a boon for health care. It cures by altering the genetic material of an individual. DNA, the genetic material, is manipulated by Gene therapy either to replace the defective genes or to supplement normal genes using treatments like Ex-vivo (from outside body) or In-vivo (inside the body).
Gene splicing, a tool of genetic engineering allows scientists to transfer gene from one organism to another. This alteration of genetic make-up of organism led to the development of recombinant DNA, which proved a milestone for production of insulin needed for type-2 diabetes. Some genes of human insulin are transferred to E-coli bacteria, from which further production of insulin is achieved.
Red biotechnology has played vital role in the development of vaccines too. Genetically altered cowpox is used against influenza, herpes and hepatitis. HGP
Pharmacogenomics and Medicines:
The study of pharmaceuticals and genetics, Pharmacogenomics, makes it possible to design and produce drugs to suit the specific genetic requirements of specific patients. With this technology it is also possible to determine the dosage of drugs appropriate to a patient as genetic information enables to know the response of body to the drug. It helps pharmaceutical industry to develop better quality medicines.
Biotech drugs, known as biologics or biotherapeuticals are derived from genetic engineering or manipulation of proteins in organisms. Unlike conventional drugs, that treat symptoms in a broad way, the biologics are used specifically.
The credit of popularization of this novel field goes to ‘Dolly’, the cloned sheep at Roslin institute in1997. This also triggered hopes of success in developing human clone, which then was just a part of farfetched scientific fictions. In this technique, a nucleus is removed from one cell and is placed inside an unfertilized egg and can be allowed to grow identical to the donor of original nucleus.
Stem cell Therapy:
This new face of advancement in technology has some truly enormous potential. It can completely change the way of treating deadly diseases like cancer. Stem cells are cells in their initial stage, when they are not yet specialized to develop into some particular cell. These unspecialized cells can renew themselves for long periods of time through cell division and under certain biochemical conditions can be made to differentiate, i.e. grow into specific cell. Thus new cells can be inserted in place of damaged ones to treat the injury and the characteristic self renewal property allows generation of tissues to replace tissues in affected areas.
Recently scientists succeeded in production of stem cells from endangered species, a breakthrough that could save animals in danger of extinction.
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