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Applications of Biotechnology

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Biotechnology is a branch of science that deals with the use of technology that is based on biology and then is used in agriculture, food industries and medicinal uses. In this technique, recombinant DNA is involved. Recombinant DNA means that this is foreign DNA and has the desired properties which we want in organisms or plant products. There are various uses of biotechnology such as in-vitro fertilization, making plants that are resistant to the external factors and animals that have the desired gene which we want so that they are useful to us. The genetic material of the host organism is altered and this results in the change of phenotype of the organism. There are various application of biotechnology.  We will learn about the application of biotechnology in medicine and also the uses of biotechnology in medicine field. Not just medicine but biotechnology find its uses in other fields also. We will also learn about the applications of biotechnology in healthcare and the application of biotechnology in industry. 

Application of Biotechnology in Medicine

There are various uses of biotechnology in medicine. These recombinant DNA technologies have made a tremendous impact in the area of healthcare and medicine. The advantages of recombinant therapeutics are that:

  • The enables the mass production of medicines

  • They help in making safe and more effective drugs. 

  • The medicines developed by the use of biotechnology does not show immunological responses. 

In the world, there are 30 recombinant therapeutics that have been approved out of which 12 are in India. Some of the therapeutic products that have been approved in India are:

  • Human Insulin

  • Human Interleukin

  • Alpha- Interferon

  • Gamma-interferon

  • Streptokinase

Biopharmaceuticals are medical products or drugs that have been produced by the use of biotechnology. Proteins and nucleic acids are included in this. There is a lot of medical biotechnology scope in India. The transgenic mice are developed to test the safety of vaccines before they are used on human beings. These mice are also used for testing the safety of the polio vaccine. Transgenic animals also help us to understand how genes contribute to the development of disease. These transgenic animals are used as models for our studies. These transgenic animal models exist for human diseases such as cancer and cystic fibrosis. Transgenic animals are also used for chemical safety testing of drugs. This testing on animals allows us to obtain the results in a very small amount of time. 

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Recombinant Insulin

This is one of the applications of biotechnology in medicine. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans. This is present in the pancreas. This hormone helps in controlling the levels of glucose in the blood. The deficiency of insulin results in a disease called diabetes mellitus. Insulin is the body that can become deficient when the pancreas decreases the production of insulin hormone. This is sometimes genetic and sometimes due to old age or any injury to the pancreas. To control this insulin deficiency problem, synthetic insulin is administered by syringes in the human body. This synthetic insulin is made with the help of biotechnology. Earlier it was extracted from the pancreas of slaughtered pigs and cattle. But now, it is made in the laboratory by recombinant DNA technology. Other uses of biotechnology in medicine are seen in Human growth hormone. This is also known as Somatotropin. This growth hormone is secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. This hormone further regulates the growth of two other hormones of the hypothalamus that are the somatotropin releasing hormone and somatostatin. The former stimulates the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland to release the growth hormone whereas the latter inhibits the secretion of the growth hormone. A deficiency of any of the above two hormones can result in various diseases. So this hormone is synthesized in the laboratories by the use of biotechnology. This hormone is also useful in healing injuries. 

Applications of Biotechnology in Healthcare

The technology of gene therapy is one of the applications of biotechnology in healthcare. Gene therapy technique is just a collection of methods that allows us to make corrections in a gene defect that has been diagnosed in a child or embryo. The genes are inserted inside the body of the deceased individual. This gene helps in taking over the function of the defective gene and thus compensates for non-functional genes. It was in the year 1990 when the first gene therapy was given. The child was suffering from ADA deficiency. This technique is a temporary cure. It can be used as a permanent cure when the defective genes are replaced in the bone marrow. This is a permanent cure for the disease. 

Industrial Applications

The field of biotechnology finds its uses in the industries also. It was in 2001 when two scientists in Canada spliced the spider genes into the cells of lactating goats. By this, the goats began to manufacture silk along with milk. These polymer strands of silk were extracted from their milk and then they were weaved into a thread. These polymer threads can be used as a light, tough and flexible material which can be used for military purposes and for making tennis racket strings. By using the techniques of biotechnology, various microorganisms are engineered to produce a wide variety of proteins. These can help in speeding up industrial chemical reactions. 

Scope of Biotechnology

Here we will understand the scope and importance of biotechnology. This field of biotechnology has grown exponentially in the past 10 years. With the unfortunate corona disease, this field has helped us to safely develop vaccines and also the testing kits for the disease. The transgenic animals and plants find great use in daily life as they have the desired genes. These desired genes can help the plants to withstand environmental stress and for the animals in producing two or different types of products at the same time as we read above where a goat produced silk and milk together with the help of recombinant DNA technology. The governments of the world have realised the importance of this field and are making advancements in the laboratories of their respective countries. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Molecular Diagnostics?

Answer: The term diagnosis refers to the detection of disease. When the disease is detected, it can be cured then only. This technique is used in biotechnology. With the help of molecular diagnostics, we can determine the nature and the cause of the disease. This can be done by evaluating the patient’s history and by the examination of the laboratory data. The polymerase chain reaction that is PCR is a method of diagnostics. It helps to detect very low levels of bacteria or virus at the time when their symptoms are not available. It is also used to identify genetic disorders. It can also be used to detect mutations in cancer patients. 

2. How is Biotechnology Used in Agriculture?

Answer: It is used for breeding purposes. The farmers used the technique of selective breeding to produce animals that exhibit the desired traits. The process of traditional breeding is time-consuming. By this genetic modifications are achieved at a much faster pace and with greater accuracy. Disease resistant animals can also be developed from these technologies. The animals produced by this technology are termed transgenic animals.