Biotechnology is a broad field that deals with the exploitation of living organisms to develop products beneficial for sustainable development. It harnesses cellular and molecular processes to develop products and technologies that could help in improving human life on earth. It has a variety of applications that focus on human welfare. Let us have an overview of major Biotechnology applications and its scope in today’s scenario.
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Biotechnology is widely used in different fields such as medicine, agriculture, food processing, etc. to produce useful products for human benefits.
The major biotechnology applications are discussed below in detail.
Biotechnology Applications in Medicine
Biotechnology has a variety of applications in the field of medicine. Some of the biotechnology applications in medicine include the following:
Insulin is required by diabetic patients to remove excess sugar from the blood. Diabetic patients have a very low level of insulin or no insulin produced by the body. Therefore they need external insulin to control the blood glucose levels.
Later it was discovered that the insulin produced by the pancreas of the pigs can be used by humans. But there were not enough pigs to provide the quantities of insulin required. This led to the cloning of the human insulin gene.
The specific gene sequence that codes for human insulin was introduced in E.coli bacteria. The gene sequence altered the genetic composition of the E.coli cells. Within 24 hours several E.coli bacteria containing the recombinant human insulin gene were produced. The recombinant human insulin was isolated from E.coli cells.
More to Read: Human Insulin
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. 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.
Pharmacogenomics has led to the production of drugs that are best suited to an individual’s genetic makeup. It can be applied in diseases such as cancer, depression, HIV, asthma, etc.
Vaccines are obtained 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.
Also Read: Principles and Processes of Biotechnology
Other Biotechnology Applications
- Fermentation is an ancient invention of biotechnology. Alcohol and bread are being produced since ages with the help of microorganisms such as yeast. In today’s scenario, the cultures have been purified and genetically refined to produce high quality food products.
- Crop improvement by crossing the plant breeds with desired traits is another application of biotechnology in the agriculture sector.
- Transgenic plants are genetically engineered to produce plants with desired characteristics.
- Tissue culture is another application of biotechnology to produce a large number of plants with an explant. It also helps in increasing the number of endangered plant species.
- It is also helpful in forensics for the identification of criminals, or in paternal disputes.
Biotechnology is applied to various fields and many industries such as food, pharmaceuticals, medicine, agriculture, etc.. It has its scope in both research and engineering.
Genetic engineering has helped in the production of therapeutic proteins as well as biological organisms. Biotechnology has made major advances in molecular biology and industrial biotechnology.
The scope of biotechnology is extended to various branches of Biology. Some of these include tissue culture, development of transgenic plants and animals, development of antibodies, etc. USA itself has established more than 200 companies such as Biogen, Cetus, Hybritech, etc.
Detailed Information: ELISA Technique
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