Biotechnology in Medicine

April 15, 2011Biotechnology Industryby EW Content Team

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The benefits of biotechnology in medicine are without doubt staggering. Although many exciting developments have taken place in the past few years, with continuing research, it is expected that more and more revolutionary procedures, substances, and devices will be developed to improve and enhance human life. When it comes to biotechnology in medicine, there are many different things that have already been discovered and even more on the near horizon.

 

For instance, today’s biotechnology is now being used to develop much-needed vaccines, new drugs to combat tough illnesses, creating xenotransplant organs, developing a variety of nanomedical diagnostic techniques, and even determining origins of disease. Because of the vastness of biotechnology specific to medicine, millions more people will be helped over those who have already benefited from different opportunities.

 

Antibiotics through Biotechnology

 

Keep in mind that biotechnology is nothing new. If you look back to 1929 when Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, followed by the development of antibiotics, we can see this has been around for a long time. Interestingly, penicillin was created completely by accident when Fleming noticed that Staphylococcus aureus cultures were killed after being contaminated by the Penicillium notatum fungus. Through his research, it was found that if the substance found in the cell free culture media were inhibited once the fungal cells were removed, the result was a drug that is still widely used today – Penicillin.

 

Medical Advancements with Biotechnology

 

However, along with the earlier developments specific to biotechnology in medicine, many new and exciting discoveries have been made. These breakthroughs are so impressive but just a few examples of how far biotechnology in medicine has come, which provides a small glimpse into where it will go in the future. 

 

  • Artificial Lymph Nodes – To begin with, Japanese scientists have been able to use biotechnology to develop artificial lymph nodes. Since these organs produce immune cells that help fight infection and are sometimes affected in cases of cancer, this discovery is truly revolutionary. The goal would be for doctors to fill these artificial nodes with cells that could help fight and treat specific types of illnesses to include cancer but also HIV.

 

  • Fighting Tooth Decay – Another way in which biotechnology in medicine is making a difference is the fight against tooth decay using special decay fighting microbes. A company in Florida called ONI BioPharma has been able to develop a strain of bacteria called SMaRT. This bacterium is incapable of producing lactic acid while also releases an antibiotic capable of killing the standard bacteria strain causing tooth decay. For SMaRT to work, dentists simply swab a small amount onto the teeth, which in turn creates health that lasts for life.

 

  • Spitting for Cancer – Unlike invasive biopsies used to check for oral cancer, biotechnology has made it possible for a person’s saliva to be tested. In this case, cancerous cells react to dyes using a special sensor. With fluorescent illumination viewed under a microscope, the dentist would know whether a person had oral cancerous cells.

 

  • Contact Lens – Unfortunately, the number two reason people go blind is glaucoma. As pressure builds behind the eye, retina cells become damaged. Thanks to biotechnology in medicine, the University of California-Davis has been able to develop contact lens with conductive wires to check pressure on a continual basis. In addition, these contact lenses have the ability to check the eye’s fluid for people at high risk of developing glaucoma.

 

  • Sensory for Asthma – Sadly, people die every year from asthma. Because the airways become constricted, a person having an asthma attack cannot breath and if not treated on an emergency basis, death would be imminent. However, the University of Pittsburgh has used biotechnology in medicine to create a polymer-coated carbon nanotube that can analyze even tiny amounts of nitric oxide, gas that is produced within the lungs just before an attack. What makes this so amazing is that the nanotube housed within the device is 100,000 times smaller than a human hair yet extremely sensitive.

 

  • Regenerating Nerves – The last example we wanted to provide for advancements in biotechnology in medicine is the nanogel, which can be injected as a liquid to help regenerate nerves. In this case, fibers have peptides that send signals to stem cells to produce healthy cells that support regrowth of damaged nerves.

 

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