Biotechnology is a broad field that deals with the utilization of living organisms to manufacture products beneficial for human beings. It comprises a broad spectrum from agriculture, genetically modified organisms and medicines, to transgenics, food production, etc. Biotechnology is an emerging field of research as it has the potential to solve many of the world’s biological problems which could not be solved until now with conventional techniques.
Let us have an overview of Biotechnology applications and its scope in today’s scenario.
Biotechnology is widely used in different fields to modify and produce useful products for human benefits. Scientists have been working on the new techniques in the agricultural sector, food processing industries, etc. which will prove beneficial in increasing crop production without affecting human health.
In today’s scenario, it is very difficult to feed a huge population with limited resources. Biotechnology has helped in serving the purpose. Genetically modified crops or the transgenic crops are one such application which provides crops with a beneficial trait. Genetically Modified Crops has improved crop quality and yield, and reduced dependency on pesticides and fertilizers. In turn, soil quality has also improved. The crops are less vulnerable to biotic and abiotic stresses.
Biotechnology has a wide range of applications in different fields. Let us discuss the applications of biotechnology in Medicine in more detail.
Biotechnology Applications in Medicine
Biotechnology applications, especially in the field of medicine, have influenced healthcare sector immensely. It has changed the face of the medical field. Genetic engineering contributed to safer and more effective treatments and medications. The application of biotechnology in the medical field began long back from the discovery of insulin.
Initially, a genetic disorder could incapacitate or render a person handicapped. Modern research has led scientists to grow organs and transplant them into the individuals safely, and it has saved lives too. In 2012, scientists created a synthetic 3D printed trachea to replace a damaged one in an infant. There are even reports of clinical trials that have grown pigs with organs that are genetically similar to people who need it. This could reduce the rate of organ rejection or other complications.
Medical Biotechnology commonly deals with the use of recombinant DNA technology in various therapeutic forms. The advantage of using this technique is, it rules out the earlier problems of graft rejection or other immunological actions against the administered therapeutics. One of the most classic examples is the production of insulin.
Earlier, the insulin was manufactured from the pancreas of pigs and other cattle which constantly reported the problem of immunological reactions. The genetically engineered insulin was manufactured with the help of E.coli to overcome the problem of immunological reactions.
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Gene Therapy holds the most promising answer to the problem of genetic diseases. Gene therapy is used to treat genetic disorders usually by the insertion of a normal gene or correct gene for the defective or inactive gene into an individual with the help of vectors such as retrovirus, adenovirus, and herpes simplex virus. The normal gene replaces the defective or inactive gene and carries out its functions. The therapy has the highest chances of developing a permanent cure if introduced in the earliest stages of life.
Detailed Insight: Gene Therapy
Medical diagnosis is another application of biotechnology in the health sector. The symptoms caused by pathogens are the only indications that we are diseased. Many times the pathogen concentration increases by the time the disease is diagnosed. Hence, early diagnosis and knowledge of pathophysiology are essential for an effective cure. This can be achieved with the help of techniques such as Recombinant DNA Technology, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), etc. PCR amplifies the pathogen before it starts to produce signs and symptoms.
Vaccines are produced by animals and cell cultures. These vaccines contain inactivated pathogens. The transgenic plants can produce antigens that can be used as edible vaccines. Antigenic proteins from several pathogens can be expressed in plants such as tomato and banana. Transgenic sugarbeet can treat foot and mouth disease of animals, transgenic banana and tomato can cure diseases such as cholera and hepatitis B.
Biotechnology is applied to various fields and many industries such as food, pharmaceuticals, medicine, agriculture, etc. It is an innovative branch and provides scope for career growth. There are several organizations that serve as resources for those who have just entered the field. People pursuing a career in this field can work in various environments such as genomics, proteomics, molecular biology, etc.
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