Biotechnology: Present and Future
Areas of applied biotechnology:
In 1885, a scientist named Roux demonstrated embryonic chick cells could
be kept alive outside an animal's body. For the next hundred years, advances
in cell tissue culture have provided fascinating glimpses into many
different areas such as biological clocks and cancer therapy.
Monoclonal antibodies are new tools
to detect and localize specific biological molecules. In principle, monoclonal
antibodies can be made against any macromolecule and used to locate, purify
or even potentially destroy a molecule as for example with anticancer drugs.
Molecular biology is useful in many fields. DNA technology
is utilized in solving crimes. It also allows searchers to produce banks
of DNA, RNA and proteins, while mapping
the human genome. Tracers are used to synthesize specific DNA or
RNA probes, essential to localizing sequences involved in genetic disorders.
With genetic engineering, new proteins are synthesized. They can
be introduced into plants or animal genomes, producing a new type of disease
resistant plants, capable of living in inhospitable environments (i.e. temperature
and water extremes,...). When introduced into bacteria, these proteins have
also produced new antibiotics and useful drugs.
Techniques of cloning generate large quantities
of pure human proteins, which are used to treat diseases like diabetes.
In the future, a resource bank for rare human proteins or other molecules
is a possibility. For instance, DNA sequences which are modified to
correct a mutation, to increase the production of a specific protein or
to produce a new type of protein can be stored . This technique will be
probably play a key role in gene therapy.
Adapted from: BIO. "Biotechnology in Perspective." Washington,
D.C.: Biotechnology Industry Organization, 1990.