Biotechnology sounds like a complicated field and in many ways it is. However, the concept behind biotech is simple. It means using the processes of biology for industrial, research, and other reasons. Biotechnology is used in a number of fields including agriculture. It’s also very important in healthcare.
One of the most common applications for biotechnology is in genetics. In terms of agriculture, this can mean making hardier, more disease-resistant plant crops. In medicine, it can mean manipulating the genes of small organisms so that they produce hormones, antibiotics, or other medically useful substances.
Recently, the idea of targeting specific genes for more personalized and efficient healthcare has started to become more possible. Instead of treating all patients with the same medication in similar doses, the idea is to customize treatments. For example, now doctors are able to figure out very specifically what type of cancer a person has. So they’re no longer treating “breast cancer.” Instead, they’re treating something more specific, like HER2+ metastatic breast cancer.
Without biotechnology, none of this would be understood. It wouldn’t be possible to know these specifics, devise treatments for them, or deliver them effectively to patients. Biotech has made it possible for so many people to have more targeted treatments and better quality of life. Disciplines that come under the umbrella of biotechnology include genomics, metabolomics, and exomics. DNA sequencing and genome editing are some of the most impactful biotechnological advances of the past 20 to 30 years.
Biotechnology is also important for the pharmaceutical world. Biologics are one of the most important products of the biotechnology field. Biologics are medicines made with or extracted from cells that are still alive. These include very commonly used substances like insulin. Many vaccines are also considered biologics. Advances in biotech since the 1970s have made it possible to develop and deliver safer medicines than ever before.
The field is always improving. Recent advances in biotech include sequencing the genes of specific tumors found in specific patients. This means there’s hope that patients can have a truly personalized cancer treatment that will give them the best possible results. Biotech solutions are making the world a better and less hostile place for people at all stages of life.