How is biotechnology used today?

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Biotechnology :

  1. Biotechnology is the field of science that uses biological processes found in living entities to make technological advances and adapt those technologies to various fields.
  2. It is used in the fields of medicine, and agriculture and is not limited to fields involved with the processes involved with living species.

Applications of biotechnology:

  1. In medicine:
    1. It is used to making vaccines and helps prevent diseases.
    2. Animal, plant, and bacterial cells are used and worked upon to understand their functioning and how any alterations can be made to help in the formulation of drugs to fight away the disease.
    3. The DNA is studied particularly to help detect the manipulations that can be made to bring about the benefits required.
    4. Examples include: Genetically engineered insulin:
      1. Initially, the insulin that was for diabetes was extracted from the pancreas of the slaughtered cattle and pigs. Since these were from an animal source, it cause a few people to develop allergies or strong reactions to them.
      2. Eli Lilly in 1983, used biotechnology to form human insulin using plasmids of E.coli.
  2. Gene therapy:
    1. Gene therapy is a collection of methods that allows the correction of a gene defect that has been diagnosed in a child/embryo.
    2. In this process, genes are introduced into an embryo or person to take over the functioning of the defective gene.
    3. This was first done in 1990 to treat Adenosine deaminase deficiency (ADA) in a four-year-old child.
    4. Since the first cells introduced are not immortal, they require periodic transfusions.
    5. However, if they are inserted in an embryonic stage, it could be a permanent cure.
  3. Transgenic animals:
    1. Animals that have had their DNA manipulated to possess and express an extra (foreign) gene are known as transgenic animals.
    2. This includes animals such as rabbits, pigs, cows, sheep, etc.
    3. These animals are specifically studied to know how their genes are regulated and how they affect the normal functioning of the human body.
  4. In agriculture:
    1. It is used in the case of genetically modified crops.
    2. This increases crop yield and sometimes is used to incorporate more favorable genes into the plant.
    3. Examples include Pest resistant crops :
      1. In these cases, biotechnology is used to transfer the required genes to make the plant resistant to pests.
      2. Bacillus thuringiensis produces some crystals at a specific stage in their life that contained a specific insecticidal protein.
      3. The genes of this protein were isolated and introduced in plants such as cotton.
      4. This resulted in pest resistance.
  5. In the biotechnological industry:
    1. In the production of alcohol. Beers are produced using barley, enzymes, and microorganisms.
    2. For the manufacture of biofuel
    3. For the production of bioplastics and biopolymers
  6. Other areas where biotechnology is used include:
    1. In the pharmaceutical industry.
    2. For the strengthening of fibers.
    3. For the production of energy such as biofuels.

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