What do you mean biotechnology?

David Johnston CFO

January 11, 2023


Biotechnology is a field of science that involves the study and application of biology in producing various products. It includes genetic engineering, biopolymer production, industrial production, energy production, and gene therapy.

Genetic engineering

Genetic engineering in biotechnology is a technology that uses modern molecular biology to modify an organism’s DNA. It is used in medicine, agriculture, and industry.

The advent of genetic engineering in the mid-1970s saw biotechnology become an entire industry. Proponents saw the potential of new technologies to solve the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems.

In the 1980s, the biotechnology industry grew rapidly. Biotechnology’s potential for solving the energy crisis and world hunger seemed promising. But it also presented several ethical dilemmas.

One of the most controversial uses of genetic engineering is cloning. Scientists are currently working on germline editing, which would prevent undesirable traits in children. However, this may not be an easy task.

While genetic engineering in biotechnology has been used for thousands of years, it has only recently become a popular method for commercial purposes. Some countries use the technique to produce resistant crop plants. Others use it to produce more nutritious foods.

Industrial production

The industrial production of biotechnology is a promising field poised for growth. Its application will impact industries like pharmaceuticals and clean energy. Advances in technical innovation and genetic engineering fuel the sector.

Biotechnology can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce clean fuels and chemicals. It also helps increase plant resilience and combat pests and diseases.

The sector is also growing thanks to tax incentives and support from agricultural feedstock programs. These programs encourage industrial biotechnology adoption.

Technological advancements in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology speed up the sector’s application. Scientists will now be able to build chemicals and sustainable fuels using industrial biotechnology.

Industrial biotechnology can potentially drive a paradigm shift from producing value-added chemicals and fossil fuels. This will benefit pharmaceuticals and related sectors as they can reduce carbon footprints.

Energy production

Biotechnology has revolutionized the world of energy production by utilizing living organisms. It has also helped doctors in fighting diseases and viruses. With the rapidly growing demand for energy, biofuels can help reduce the dependence on foreign oil. Currently, there are three main ways biomass can be used for fuel production: combustion, gasification, and liquefaction.

Biogas, a renewable resource, is made from methane, carbon dioxide (CO2), and siloxanes. It can be produced from biodegradable organic materials or landfill sources. The resulting gas is a valuable renewable energy source. Combustion of biogas can generate enough energy to power heating, cooking, and other applications.

One of the most promising solutions to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is to convert waste biomass into biofuels. Biofuels include biogas, ethanol, and biohydrogen. Increasingly, these are being used as a clean alternative to fossil fuels.

Biopolymer production from plants

Plant biopolymers are a group of polymers that are produced by living cells. The material’s unique properties make it an exciting target for biotechnological applications. However, the production of plant biopolymers requires a range of scientific advances.

The production of plant biopolymers on a large scale requires a combination of plant genes, microbial enzymes, and microbial cell factories. These can be engineered to work together. This allows for the mass production of biopolymers.

Plants produce a variety of biopolymers, including proteins, cellulose, starch, polyhydroxyalkanoates, polyamides, and inositol. Polyhydroxyalkanoates are biological polyesters, and most PHAs are comprised of 3-hydroxy and 4-hydroxy fatty acids. They act as electron sinks and can enhance bacteria’s survival in anaerobic conditions. In addition to their structural properties, PHAs can be used as nano-sized drug delivery vehicles and have biodegradable properties.

Gene therapy

Gene therapy is a subset of biotechnology that involves using a vector to deliver a functional gene copy into the body to cure a disease. It is suitable for treating diseases caused by inappropriate gene activity, such as cystic fibrosis or cancer.

This is typically accomplished through viral or bacterial vectors, which carry the genetic material into the patient’s cells. A viral vector may have the advantage of being immune to the human immune system, but it has been criticized for its oncogenicity.

In contrast, non-viral vectors have been criticized for causing induced mutagenesis in the host cell. A study has also demonstrated that a circular DNA molecule can be engineered to deliver therapeutic genes into the body.

Several gene therapy technologies are on the market, from viral to cellular. These products are regulated by the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. Although gene therapy has shown some promise in treating infectious and genetic diseases, the technology has yet to be perfected.