Biotechnology

Biotechnology refers to the modifications of humans and human environment using living organisms or their products. Biotechnology existed right from pre-historic times, only it has been given a name now. When man first learnt that he could breed and plant crops, that he can make bread from yeast, beer can be made from fermenting solutions of malt and hop, man has been using biotechnological methods.

In earlier days man used small amounts of infectious agents to immunize himself from diseases, which is now used as antibiotics and vaccinations. So when man dreams of growing pest-resistant crops, of combining the genes of 2 or more cells, as he has a better understanding of cells and the organisms, then we can proudly say that man is using Biotechnology to make further progress.

So Biotechnology is technology used in Biology in the areas of agriculture, food, medicine. It is a combination of disciplines like genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology

Applications
  • Biotechnology is used in the areas of medicine, agriculture, environmental uses and for bio-degradable uses.
  • Red Biotechnology is applied in the health sector to produce antibiotics.
  • White Biotechnology is applied to industrial processes. It is also called industrial biotechnology. An example is the use of enzymes to produce useful chemicals or destroy harmful chemicals.
  • Green Biotechnology is used in agriculture to design certain transgenic plants which can grow in the presence or absence of certain chemicals
  • Blue Biotechnology is used in aquatic and marine applications. Though its usage is still in the infant stage.
  • Biotechnology is used in medicine in creating drugs, proper diagnosis, better and safer vaccines, in new medical therapies like treatment of hepatitis, cancer, diabetes.
  • It is used for Genetic testing, cloning. In human cloning, the nucleus from one cell is removed and placed in unfertilized egg cell whose nucleus has been removed.
Rank 2006   Company   Country   Revenue in 2006 (USD millions)   R&D in 2006 (USD millions)   Net income/ (loss) in 2006 (USD millions)   Employees in 2006  
1 Amgen USA 14,268.0 3,366.0 2,950.0 20,100
2 Genentech USA 9,284.0 1,773.0 2,113.0 10,533
3 Genzyme USA 3,187.0 650.0 (16.8) 9,000+
4 UCB Belgium 3,169.6 772.6 461.1 8,477
5 Gilead Sciences USA 3,026.1 383.9 (1,190.0) 7,575
6 Serono Switzerland 2,804.9 560.5 735.4 4,775
7 Biogen Idec USA 2,683.0 718.4 217.5 3,750
8 CSL Australia 2,148.3 119.1 86.8 2,895
9 Cephalon USA 1,764.1 403.4 144.8 2,515
10 MedImmune USA 1,276.8 448.9 48.7 2,359
11 Celgene USA 898.9 258.6 69.0 1,864
12 Abraxis BioScience USA 765.5 96.9 (46.9) 1,734
13 Actelion Switzerland 754.6 169.0 192.4 1,550
14 ImClone Systems USA 677.8 112.1 370.7 1,287
16 Amylin Pharmaceuticals USA 510.9 222.1 (218.9) 1,100
17 Millennium Pharmaceuticals USA 486.8 318.2 (44.0) 1,073
18 PDL BioPharma USA 414.8 260.7 (130.0) 993
19 OSI Pharmaceuticals USA 375.7 176.7 (582.2) 962
20 MGI Pharma USA 342.8 100.1 (40.2) 947
21 Pharmion USA 238.6 70.1 (91.0) 793
22 Nektar Therapeutics USA 217.7 149.4 (154.8) 770
23 Vertex Pharmaceuticals USA 216.4 371.7 (206.9) 760
24 Biocon India 200.3 30.5 43.5 1,838
25 Cubist Pharmaceuticals USA 194.7 57.4 (0.4) 746
26 Enzon Pharmaceuticals USA 185.7 43.5 21.3 722
27 QLT Canada 175.1 56.4 (101.6) 653
28 ViroPharma USA 167.2 19.2 66.7 651
29 Alkermes USA 166.6 89.1 3.8 617
30 Crucell Netherlands 165.3 84.9 (110.0) 611
31 United Therapeutics USA 159.6 57.6 74.0 585
32 LifeCell USA 141.7 16.5 20.5 573
33 Ligand Pharmaceuticals USA 141.0 41.9 (31.7) 540
34 Myriad Genetics USA 114.3 83.8 (38.2) 511
35 Exelixis USA 98.7 185.5 (101.5) 500
36 Cangene Canada 96.8 22.1 11.6 498
37 InterMune USA 90.8 103.8 (107.2) 492
38 Nabi Biopharmaceuticals USA 89.9 37.6 (58.7) 487
39 BioMarin Pharmaceutical USA 84.2 66.7 (28.5) 417
40 Lexicon Pharmaceuticals USA 72.8 106.7 (54.3) 410
41 Progenics Pharmaceuticals USA 69.9 61.7 (21.6) 410
42 Innogenetics Belgium 67.5 32.1 (31.5) 371
43 Idenix Pharmaceuticals USA 67.4 96.1 (75.1) 359
44 MorphoSys Germany 66.6 21.9 7.6 336
45 Omrix Biopharmaceuticals USA 63.8 3.4 23.1 335
46 Regeneron Pharmaceuticals USA 63.4 137.1 (102.3) 323
47 Acambis UK 57.0 68.2 (30.4) 285
48 Tanox USA 56.1 53.4 (2.6) 285
49 ViaCell USA 54.4 14.0 (21.0) 282
50 Indevus Pharmaceuticals USA 50.5 43.2 -50.6 279
51 Medarex USA 48.6 194.5 (181.7) 277
52 NPS Pharmaceuticals USA 48.5 68.4 (112.7) 276
53 Monogram Biosciences USA 48.0 19.0 (38.7) 274
54 Oscient Pharmaceuticals USA 46.2 12.4 (78.5) 267
55 Array BioPharma USA 45.0 33.4 (39.6) 263
56 AEterna Zentaris Canada 41.4 28.7 33.4 260
57 IsoTis Switzerland 40.7 7.7 (18.5) 255
58 Enzo Biochem USA 39.8 7.9 (15.7) 255
59 CuraGen USA 39.6 58.5 (59.8) 254
60 Neurocrine Biosciences USA 39.2 97.7 (107.2) 254
61 MediGene Germany 38.4 26.7 (8.7) 248
62 Life Therapeutics Australia 37.6 0.1 (31.2) 245
63 Inspire Pharmaceuticals USA 37.1 42.5 (42.1) 238
64 CV Therapeutics USA 36.8 135.3 (274.3) 233
65 Cerus USA 35.6 29.5 (4.8) 208
66 SciClone Pharmaceuticals USA 32.7 14.1 0.7 197
67 ImmunoGen USA 32.1 40.9 (17.8) 197
68 Protherics UK 30.9 11.8 (16.5) 196
69 Arena Pharmaceuticals USA 30.6 103.4 (88.3) 195
70 Vernalis UK 30.1 71.7 (78.2) 192
71 Bavarian Nordic Denmark 29.5 19.9 (27.1) 191
72 Xoma USA 29.5 52.1 (51.8) 189
73 GPC Biotech Germany 28.5 81.3 (80.4) 180
74 Micromet USA 27.6 28.3 0.0 171
75 Targacept USA 27.5 21.8 (1.2) 170
76 Carrington Laboratories USA 27.4 5.8 (7.6) 166
77 Acorda Therapeutics USA 27.4 12.1 (60.0) 158
78 Anika Therapeutics USA 26.8 3.6 4.6 156
79 Human Genome Sciences USA 25.8 209.2 (251.2) 151
80 Dusa Pharmaceuticals USA 25.6 6.2 (31.3) 150
81 ZymoGenetics USA 25.4 128.5 (130.0) 150
82 Maxygen USA 25.0 49.1 (16.5) 147
83 Isis Pharmaceuticals USA 24.5 80.6 (45.9) 133
84 Genmab Denmark 23.9 90.6 (77.4) 128
85 Bioniche Life Sciences Canada 23.9 11.6 (1.0) 126
86 Vitrolife Sweden 23.2 3.3 2.1 124
87 Coley Pharmaceutical Group USA 20.2 40.9 (29.4) 122
88 Palatin Technologies USA 19.7 41.0 (29.0) 116
89 Encysive Pharmaceuticals USA 19.0 64.4 (109.3) 109
90 GenVec USA 18.9 29.6 (19.3) 95
91 Medivir Group Sweden 18.8 39.7 (29.7) 88
92 Peptech Australia 18.7 4.6 3.8 85
93 Ambrilia Biopharma Canada 17.4 8.3 (2.1) 85
94 Cytogen USA 17.3 7.3 (15.1) 85
95 Replidyne USA 16.0 38.3 (34.6) 79
96 Sinovac Biotech China 15.4 0.3 (0.7) 67
97 Trimeris USA 15.2 18.3 7.4 64
98 Avanir Pharmaceuticals USA 15.2 29.2 (62.6) 64
99 Adolor USA 15.1 56.7 (69.7) 51
100 Curis USA 14.9 14.6 (8.8) 46
The two types of cloning are:

Reproductive cloning: The egg cell after a few divisions is placed in the uterus which is genetically similar to the original nucleus for developing.

Therapeutic cloning: The egg is placed into a Petri dish where it develops into embryonic stem cells for treating ailments. In 1997, the cloned sheep Dolly created a stir as she was developed from the mammary glands of a female, which made it apparent that even humans can be cloned. This led to a very ethical controversy

Biotechnology in agriculture: The application of biotechnology in agriculture is mainly to yield a good crop. Using biotechnological methods, genes may be transferred to a high yielding crop to get new characters. But this works best with a single gene whereas the technique which requires enhanced growth uses multiple genes, so a lot of work still needs to be done in this area. Another area where Biotechnology is used is in improving the resistance of crops to diverse environmental conditions like drought, salty water etc.

Biotechnology in biodegradation: Biotechnology is also being used to adapt microorganisms which help in cleaning up environmental wastes and pollutants include marine pollution caused by oil spills.

Benefits of Biotech foods: Crops which have built in resistance against insects, diseases will require less chemicals. New vegetable oils can be made which will reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Foods with extra nutrients and vitamins can be grown.

Careers in Biotechnology: Job opportunities in the field of Biotechnology is vast and very gratifying. One has the satisfaction of associating oneself with research or developing products which is used in the improvement of human life. Any science or engineering student can opt for a career in Biotechnology. There are various divisions in a company which deal with various aspects of Biotechnology. They are:

  • Biotechnology Research and Development
  • Biotechnology Production and Quality control
  • Biotechnology Sales and marketing
  • Biotechnology Regulatory affairs
  • Biotechnology Legal affairs
  • Biotechnology Support functions

People interested in research can also do Phd in Biotechnology and obtain a doctorate.