Biotechnology

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Posted by pompos 04/02/2009 @ 18:07

Tags : biotechnology, life sciences, sciences

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Biotechnology key industry for Atlanta's future - Atlanta Journal Constitution
By Gregg Simon Next week, the city of Atlanta welcomes the largest global event for the biotechnology industry to the Georgia World Congress Center. The 2009 BIO International Convention attracts the biggest names in biotech....
Sucampo Pharmaceuticals Named Biotechnology Firm of the Year by ... - Earthtimes (press release)
BETHESDA, Md. - (Business Wire) Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCMP) today reported that it was named as Biotechnology Firm of the Year at the Tech Council of Maryland (TCM) Annual Dinner & Tech Awards Celebration held last night in North...
Biotech the new economic force? - News 10 Now
SYRACUSE, NY -- Could pharmaceutical research and biotechnology be the new economic force in Central New York? Supporters will tell you yes and they have a new study to back their claim. According to a report by Archstone Consulting, the industry had a...
BioWorld Today May 15, 2009 - TMCnet
The so-called Maryland BIO 2020 initiative includes a new biotechnology center, proposed as a one-stop-shop to showcase and support biotechnology innovation and entrepreneurship and consolidate various state, academic and private sector ventures....

Biotechnology

Insulin crystals.

Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.

Biotechnology is often used to refer to genetic engineering technology of the 21st century, however the term encompasses a wider range and history of procedures for modifying biological organisms according to the needs of humanity, going back to the initial modifications of native plants into improved food crops through artificial selection and hybridization. Bioengineering is the science upon which all biotechnological applications are based. With the development of new approaches and modern techniques, traditional biotechnology industries are also acquiring new horizons enabling them to improve the quality of their products and increase the productivity of their systems.

Before 1971, the term, biotechnology, was primarily used in the food processing and agriculture industries. Since the 1970s, it began to be used by the Western scientific establishment to refer to laboratory-based techniques being developed in biological research, such as recombinant DNA or tissue culture-based processes, or horizontal gene transfer in living plants, using vectors such as the Agrobacterium bacteria to transfer DNA into a host organism. In fact, the term should be used in a much broader sense to describe the whole range of methods, both ancient and modern, used to manipulate organic materials to reach the demands of food production. So the term could be defined as, "The application of indigenous and/or scientific knowledge to the management of (parts of) microorganisms, or of cells and tissues of higher organisms, so that these supply goods and services of use to the food industry and its consumers.

Biotechnology combines disciplines like genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, embryology and cell biology, which are in turn linked to practical disciplines like chemical engineering, information technology, and biorobotics. Patho-biotechnology describes the exploitation of pathogens or pathogen derived compounds for beneficial effect.

Although not normally thought of as biotechnology, agriculture clearly fits the broad definition of "using a biological system to make products" such that the cultivation of plants may be viewed as the earliest biotechnological enterprise. Agriculture has been theorized to have become the dominant way of producing food since the Neolithic Revolution. The processes and methods of agriculture have been refined by other mechanical and biological sciences since its inception. Through early biotechnology, farmers were able to select the best suited and highest-yield crops to produce enough food to support a growing population. Other uses of biotechnology were required as crops and fields became increasingly large and difficult to maintain. Specific organisms and organism by-products were used to fertilize, restore nitrogen, and control pests. Throughout the use of agriculture, farmers have inadvertently altered the genetics of their crops through introducing them to new environments and breeding them with other plants--one of the first forms of biotechnology. Cultures such as those in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India developed the process of brewing beer. It is still done by the same basic method of using malted grains (containing enzymes) to convert starch from grains into sugar and then adding specific yeasts to produce beer. In this process the carbohydrates in the grains were broken down into alcohols such as ethanol. Ancient Indians also used the juices of the plant Ephedra vulgaris and used to call it Soma. Later other cultures produced the process of Lactic acid fermentation which allowed the fermentation and preservation of other forms of food. Fermentation was also used in this time period to produce leavened bread. Although the process of fermentation was not fully understood until Louis Pasteur’s work in 1857, it is still the first use of biotechnology to convert a food source into another form.

Combinations of plants and other organisms were used as medications in many early civilizations. Since as early as 200 BC, people began to use disabled or minute amounts of infectious agents to immunize themselves against infections. These and similar processes have been refined in modern medicine and have led to many developments such as antibiotics, vaccines, and other methods of fighting sickness.

In the early twentieth century scientists gained a greater understanding of microbiology and explored ways of manufacturing specific products. In 1917, Chaim Weizmann first used a pure microbiological culture in an industrial process, that of manufacturing corn starch using Clostridium acetobutylicum, to produce acetone, which the United Kingdom desperately needed to manufacture explosives during World War I.

The field of modern biotechnology is thought to have largely begun on June 16, 1980, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that a genetically-modified microorganism could be patented in the case of Diamond v. Chakrabarty. Indian-born Ananda Chakrabarty, working for General Electric, had developed a bacterium (derived from the Pseudomonas genus) capable of breaking down crude oil, which he proposed to use in treating oil spills.

Revenue in the industry is expected to grow by 12.9% in 2008. Another factor influencing the biotechnology sector's success is improved intellectual property rights legislation -- and enforcement -- worldwide, as well as strengthened demand for medical and pharmaceutical products to cope with an ageing, and ailing, U.S. population.

Rising demand for biofuels is expected to be good news for the biotechnology sector, with the Department of Energy estimating ethanol usage could reduce U.S. petroleum-derived fuel consumption by up to 30% by 2030. The biotechnology sector has allowed the U.S. farming industry to rapidly increase its supply of corn and soybeans -- the main inputs into biofuels -- by developing genetically-modified seeds which are resistant to pests and drought. By boosting farm productivity, biotechnology plays a crucial role in ensuring that biofuel production targets are met.

Biotechnology has applications in four major industrial areas, including health care (medical), crop production and agriculture, non food (industrial) uses of crops and other products (e.g. biodegradable plastics, vegetable oil, biofuels), and environmental uses.

For example, one application of biotechnology is the directed use of organisms for the manufacture of organic products (examples include beer and milk products). Another example is using naturally present bacteria by the mining industry in bioleaching. Biotechnology is also used to recycle, treat waste, clean up sites contaminated by industrial activities (bioremediation), and also to produce biological weapons.

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how the genetic inheritance of an individual affects his/her body’s response to drugs. It is a coined word derived from the words “pharmacology” and “genomics”. It is hence the study of the relationship between pharmaceuticals and genetics. The vision of pharmacogenomics is to be able to design and produce drugs that are adapted to each person’s genetic makeup.

Most traditional pharmaceutical drugs are relatively simple molecules that have been found primarily through trial and error to treat the symptoms of a disease or illness. Biopharmaceuticals are large biological molecules known as proteins and these usually target the underlying mechanisms and pathways of a malady (but not always, as is the case with using insulin to treat type 1 diabetes mellitus, as that treatment merely addresses the symptoms of the disease, not the underlying cause which is autoimmunity); it is a relatively young industry. They can deal with targets in humans that may not be accessible with traditional medicines. A patient typically is dosed with a small molecule via a tablet while a large molecule is typically injected.

Small molecules are manufactured by chemistry but larger molecules are created by living cells such as those found in the human body: for example, bacteria cells, yeast cells, animal or plant cells.

Modern biotechnology is often associated with the use of genetically altered microorganisms such as E. coli or yeast for the production of substances like synthetic insulin or antibiotics. It can also refer to transgenic animals or transgenic plants, such as Bt corn. Genetically altered mammalian cells, such as Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells, are also used to manufacture certain pharmaceuticals. Another promising new biotechnology application is the development of plant-made pharmaceuticals.

Biotechnology is also commonly associated with landmark breakthroughs in new medical therapies to treat hepatitis B, hepatitis C, cancers, arthritis, haemophilia, bone fractures, multiple sclerosis, and cardiovascular disorders. The biotechnology industry has also been instrumental in developing molecular diagnostic devices than can be used to define the target patient population for a given biopharmaceutical. Herceptin, for example, was the first drug approved for use with a matching diagnostic test and is used to treat breast cancer in women whose cancer cells express the protein HER2.

Modern biotechnology can be used to manufacture existing medicines relatively easily and cheaply. The first genetically engineered products were medicines designed to treat human diseases. To cite one example, in 1978 Genentech developed synthetic humanized insulin by joining its gene with a plasmid vector inserted into the bacterium Escherichia coli. Insulin, widely used for the treatment of diabetes, was previously extracted from the pancreas of abattoir animals (cattle and/or pigs). The resulting genetically engineered bacterium enabled the production of vast quantities of synthetic human insulin at relatively low cost, although the cost savings was used to increase profits for manufacturers, not passed on to consumers or their healthcare providers. According to a 2003 study undertaken by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) on the access to and availability of insulin in its member countries, synthetic 'human' insulin is considerably more expensive in most countries where both synthetic 'human' and animal insulin are commercially available: e.g. within European countries the average price of synthetic 'human' insulin was twice as high as the price of pork insulin. Yet in its position statement, the IDF writes that "there is no overwhelming evidence to prefer one species of insulin over another" and " animal insulins remain a perfectly acceptable alternative.

Modern biotechnology has evolved, making it possible to produce more easily and relatively cheaply human growth hormone, clotting factors for hemophiliacs, fertility drugs, erythropoietin and other drugs. Most drugs today are based on about 500 molecular targets. Genomic knowledge of the genes involved in diseases, disease pathways, and drug-response sites are expected to lead to the discovery of thousands more new targets.

Genetic testing involves the direct examination of the DNA molecule itself. A scientist scans a patient’s DNA sample for mutated sequences.

There are two major types of gene tests. In the first type, a researcher may design short pieces of DNA (“probes”) whose sequences are complementary to the mutated sequences. These probes will seek their complement among the base pairs of an individual’s genome. If the mutated sequence is present in the patient’s genome, the probe will bind to it and flag the mutation. In the second type, a researcher may conduct the gene test by comparing the sequence of DNA bases in a patient’s gene to disease in healthy individuals or their progeny.

Some genetic tests are already available, although most of them are used in developed countries. The tests currently available can detect mutations associated with rare genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and Huntington’s disease. Recently, tests have been developed to detect mutation for a handful of more complex conditions such as breast, ovarian, and colon cancers. However, gene tests may not detect every mutation associated with a particular condition because many are as yet undiscovered, and the ones they do detect may present different risks to different people and populations.

At the individual level, the absence of privacy and anti-discrimination legal protections in most countries can lead to discrimination in employment or insurance or other misuse of personal genetic information. This raises questions such as whether genetic privacy is different from medical privacy.

Gene therapy may be used for treating, or even curing, genetic and acquired diseases like cancer and AIDS by using normal genes to supplement or replace defective genes or to bolster a normal function such as immunity. It can be used to target somatic (i.e., body) or gametes (i.e., egg and sperm) cells. In somatic gene therapy, the genome of the recipient is changed, but this change is not passed along to the next generation. In contrast, in germline gene therapy, the egg and sperm cells of the parents are changed for the purpose of passing on the changes to their offspring.

Currently, the use of gene therapy is limited. Somatic gene therapy is primarily at the experimental stage. Germline therapy is the subject of much discussion but it is not being actively investigated in larger animals and human beings.

As of June 2001, more than 500 clinical gene-therapy trials involving about 3,500 patients have been identified worldwide. Around 78% of these are in the United States, with Europe having 18%. These trials focus on various types of cancer, although other multigenic diseases are being studied as well. Recently, two children born with severe combined immunodeficiency disorder (“SCID”) were reported to have been cured after being given genetically engineered cells.

The Human Genome Project is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) that aims to generate a high-quality reference sequence for the entire human genome and identify all the human genes.

The DOE and its predecessor agencies were assigned by the U.S. Congress to develop new energy resources and technologies and to pursue a deeper understanding of potential health and environmental risks posed by their production and use. In 1986, the DOE announced its Human Genome Initiative. Shortly thereafter, the DOE and National Institutes of Health developed a plan for a joint Human Genome Project (“HGP”), which officially began in 1990.

The HGP was originally planned to last 15 years. However, rapid technological advances and worldwide participation accelerated the completion date to 2003 (making it a 13 year project). Already it has enabled gene hunters to pinpoint genes associated with more than 30 disorders.

Cloning involves the removal of the nucleus from one cell and its placement in an unfertilized egg cell whose nucleus has either been deactivated or removed.

In February 1997, cloning became the focus of media attention when Ian Wilmut and his colleagues at the Roslin Institute announced the successful cloning of a sheep, named Dolly, from the mammary glands of an adult female. The cloning of Dolly made it apparent to many that the techniques used to produce her could someday be used to clone human beings. This stirred a lot of controversy because of its ethical implications.

Responsible biotechnology is not the enemy; starvation is. Without adequate food supplies at affordable prices, we cannot expect world health or peace.

Using the techniques of modern biotechnology, one or two genes may be transferred to a highly developed crop variety to impart a new character that would increase its yield. However, while increases in crop yield are the most obvious applications of modern biotechnology in agriculture, it is also the most difficult one. Current genetic engineering techniques work best for effects that are controlled by a single gene. Many of the genetic characteristics associated with yield (e.g., enhanced growth) are controlled by a large number of genes, each of which has a minimal effect on the overall yield. There is, therefore, much scientific work to be done in this area.

Crops containing genes that will enable them to withstand biotic and abiotic stresses may be developed. For example, drought and excessively salty soil are two important limiting factors in crop productivity. Biotechnologists are studying plants that can cope with these extreme conditions in the hope of finding the genes that enable them to do so and eventually transferring these genes to the more desirable crops. One of the latest developments is the identification of a plant gene, At-DBF2, from thale cress, a tiny weed that is often used for plant research because it is very easy to grow and its genetic code is well mapped out. When this gene was inserted into tomato and tobacco cells (see RNA interference), the cells were able to withstand environmental stresses like salt, drought, cold and heat, far more than ordinary cells. If these preliminary results prove successful in larger trials, then At-DBF2 genes can help in engineering crops that can better withstand harsh environments. Researchers have also created transgenic rice plants that are resistant to rice yellow mottle virus (RYMV). In Africa, this virus destroys majority of the rice crops and makes the surviving plants more susceptible to fungal infections.

Proteins in foods may be modified to increase their nutritional qualities. Proteins in legumes and cereals may be transformed to provide the amino acids needed by human beings for a balanced diet. A good example is the work of Professors Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer on the so-called Golden rice (discussed below).

Modern biotechnology can be used to slow down the process of spoilage so that fruit can ripen longer on the plant and then be transported to the consumer with a still reasonable shelf life. This may improve the taste, texture and appearance of the fruit. More importantly, it could expand the market for farmers in developing countries due to the reduction in spoilage. However, there is sometimes a lack of understanding by researchers in developed countries about the actual needs of prospective beneficiaries in developing countries. For example, engineering soybeans to resist spoilage makes them less suitable for producing tempeh which is a significant source of protein that depends on fermentation. The use of modified soybeans results in a lumpy texture that is less palatable and less convenient when cooking.

The first genetically modified food product was a tomato which was transformed to delay its ripening. Researchers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam are currently working on delayed-ripening papaya in collaboration with the University of Nottingham and Zeneca.

Biotechnology in cheese production: enzymes produced by micro-organisms provide an alternative to animal rennet – a cheese coagulant - and an alternative supply for cheese makers. This also eliminates possible public concerns with animal-derived material, although there is currently no plans to develop synthetic milk, thus making this argument less compelling. Enzymes offer an animal-friendly alternative to animal rennet. While providing comparable quality, they are theoretically also less expensive.

About 85 million tons of wheat flour is used every year to bake bread. By adding an enzyme called maltogenic amylase to the flour, bread stays fresher longer. Assuming that 10-15% of bread is thrown away, if it could just stay fresh another 5–7 days then 2 million tons of flour per year would be saved. That corresponds to 40% of the bread consumed in a country such as the USA. This means more bread becomes available with no increase in input. In combination with other enzymes, bread can also be made bigger, more appetizing and better in a range of ways.

Most of the current commercial applications of modern biotechnology in agriculture are on reducing the dependence of farmers on agrochemicals. For example, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a soil bacterium that produces a protein with insecticidal qualities. Traditionally, a fermentation process has been used to produce an insecticidal spray from these bacteria. In this form, the Bt toxin occurs as an inactive protoxin, which requires digestion by an insect to be effective. There are several Bt toxins and each one is specific to certain target insects. Crop plants have now been engineered to contain and express the genes for Bt toxin, which they produce in its active form. When a susceptible insect ingests the transgenic crop cultivar expressing the Bt protein, it stops feeding and soon thereafter dies as a result of the Bt toxin binding to its gut wall. Bt corn is now commercially available in a number of countries to control corn borer (a lepidopteran insect), which is otherwise controlled by spraying (a more difficult process).

Crops have also been genetically engineered to acquire tolerance to broad-spectrum herbicide. The lack of cost-effective herbicides with broad-spectrum activity and no crop injury was a consistent limitation in crop weed management. Multiple applications of numerous herbicides were routinely used to control a wide range of weed species detrimental to agronomic crops. Weed management tended to rely on preemergence — that is, herbicide applications were sprayed in response to expected weed infestations rather than in response to actual weeds present. Mechanical cultivation and hand weeding were often necessary to control weeds not controlled by herbicide applications. The introduction of herbicide tolerant crops has the potential of reducing the number of herbicide active ingredients used for weed management, reducing the number of herbicide applications made during a season, and increasing yield due to improved weed management and less crop injury. Transgenic crops that express tolerance to glyphosate, glufosinate and bromoxynil have been developed. These herbicides can now be sprayed on transgenic crops without inflicting damage on the crops while killing nearby weeds.

From 1996 to 2001, herbicide tolerance was the most dominant trait introduced to commercially available transgenic crops, followed by insect resistance. In 2001, herbicide tolerance deployed in soybean, corn and cotton accounted for 77% of the 626,000 square kilometres planted to transgenic crops; Bt crops accounted for 15%; and "stacked genes" for herbicide tolerance and insect resistance used in both cotton and corn accounted for 8%.

Biotechnology is being applied for novel uses other than food. For example, oilseed can be modified to produce fatty acids for detergents, substitute fuels and petrochemicals. Potatoes, tomatos, rice, tobacco, lettuce, safflowers, and other plants have been genetically-engineered to produce insulin and certain vaccines. If future clinical trials prove successful, the advantages of edible vaccines would be enormous, especially for developing countries. The transgenic plants may be grown locally and cheaply. Homegrown vaccines would also avoid logistical and economic problems posed by having to transport traditional preparations over long distances and keeping them cold while in transit. And since they are edible, they will not need syringes, which are not only an additional expense in the traditional vaccine preparations but also a source of infections if contaminated. In the case of insulin grown in transgenic plants, it is well-established that the gastrointestinal system breaks the protein down therefore this could not currently be administered as an edible protein. However, it might be produced at significantly lower cost than insulin produced in costly, bioreactors. For example, Calgary, Canada-based SemBioSys Genetics, Inc. reports that its safflower-produced insulin will reduce unit costs by over 25% or more and approximates a reduction in the capital costs associated with building a commercial-scale insulin manufacturing facility of over $100 million, compared to traditional biomanufacturing facilities.

There is another side to the agricultural biotechnology issue. It includes increased herbicide usage and resultant herbicide resistance, "super weeds," residues on and in food crops, genetic contamination of non-GM crops which hurt organic and conventional farmers, damage to wildlife from glyphosate, etc.

Biotechnological engineering or biological engineering is a branch of engineering that focuses on biotechnologies and biological science. It includes different disciplines such as biochemical engineering, biomedical engineering, bio-process engineering, biosystem engineering and so on. Because of the novelty of the field, the definition of a bioengineer is still undefined. However, in general it is an integrated approach of fundamental biological sciences and traditional engineering principles.

Bioengineers are often employed to scale up bio processes from the laboratory scale to the manufacturing scale. Moreover, as with most engineers, they often deal with management, economic and legal issues. Since patents and regulation (e.g., U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation in the U.S.) are very important issues for biotech enterprises, bioengineers are often required to have knowledge related to these issues.

The increasing number of biotech enterprises is likely to create a need for bioengineers in the years to come. Many universities throughout the world are now providing programs in bioengineering and biotechnology (as independent programs or specialty programs within more established engineering fields).

Biotechnology is being used to engineer and adapt organisms especially microorganisms in an effort to find sustainable ways to clean up contaminated environments. The elimination of a wide range of pollutants and wastes from the environment is an absolute requirement to promote a sustainable development of our society with low environmental impact. Biological processes play a major role in the removal of contaminants and biotechnology is taking advantage of the astonishing catabolic versatility of microorganisms to degrade/convert such compounds. New methodological breakthroughs in sequencing, genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and imaging are producing vast amounts of information. In the field of Environmental Microbiology, genome-based global studies open a new era providing unprecedented in silico views of metabolic and regulatory networks, as well as clues to the evolution of degradation pathways and to the molecular adaptation strategies to changing environmental conditions. Functional genomic and metagenomic approaches are increasing our understanding of the relative importance of different pathways and regulatory networks to carbon flux in particular environments and for particular compounds and they will certainly accelerate the development of bioremediation technologies and biotransformation processes.

Marine environments are especially vulnerable since oil spills of coastal regions and the open sea are poorly containable and mitigation is difficult. In addition to pollution through human activities, millions of tons of petroleum enter the marine environment every year from natural seepages. Despite its toxicity, a considerable fraction of petroleum oil entering marine systems is eliminated by the hydrocarbon-degrading activities of microbial communities, in particular by a remarkable recently discovered group of specialists, the so-called hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria (HCCB).

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List of biotechnology companies

A "biotechnology company" is a company whose products or services primarily use biotechnology methods for their production, design or delivery. Examining the list of the top 100 such companies, below, shows that many have negative income. This is consistent with the notion that only one in ten biotechnology companies were considered profitable in mid-2005.

The following is a list of the top 100 companies ranked by revenue. The first nine companies qualify for the list of the top 50 pharmaceutical companies.

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Chinese biotechnology industry

China has seen double-digit growth in its biotechnology industry and has gone from being one of the slowest to one of the fastest nations in the adoption of new biotechnologies. The biotech sector is seen in China and internationally as a core area of national scientific and economic development. The main national biotech body in the country is the China National Center for Biotechnology Development. The CNCBD is an organization established on November 3, 1983 under the Ministry of Science and Technology with the approval of the State Council. CNCBD is the sole national center to coordinate and implement the national S&T program in Biotechnology and Health.

Biotech industry in China started in 1984. By 1997, the number of Chinese biotech companies was about 200. In 2000 it was estimated, that the number of Chinese biotech companies increased to 600. In 2005 China's biotechnology industry increased to 900 modern biotech companies. China's biotech industry registered sales totaling US$2.4 billion in 2000, compared with US$ 31 million in 1986.

China's biopharmaceutical industry is gradually expanding duo to such favorable factors as China's rapid economic growth, people's higher income, increasing understanding and demand of biopharmaceutical. Biopharmaceutical industry plays a more important role in national economy and draws more attention from investors - both private and public.

With the improvement of the health care system and people's rising awareness of disease treatment, more non-conservative treatment methods are used in clinical treatment, which has promoted the development of blood products. Currently, blood products frequently used in clinical treatment include over 20 types, belonging to such 3 sub-catalogues as human serum albumin, immunoglobulin and coagulation factors.

The demand of charged vaccine has increased dramatically with the rising consumption power and health awareness of people so that charged vaccine market is expanding rapidly. Charged vaccine as a supplement to free vaccine program has promoted the rapid growth of domestic vaccine market, the external diagnostic reagent is becoming familiar with people owing to people's deeper understanding of catalogues and curative effect of biological drugs. Nowadays genetic drugs and antibody drugs are replacing the chemical drugs which have many side effects to cure the cancer patients, and this will bring more opportunities for cancer patients to survive.

The import and export volume of China's biopharmaceutical products was 377 million dollars in 2007, increased by 48% as compared with last year. The import volume reached 336 million dollars, increased by 51% as compared with 2006, and the export volume was 41 million dollars .

The growth rate of export volume in 2007 had declined from the level of 58% in 2006 to 26% in 2007. Although the export of China's biopharmaceutical industry constantly kept a high growth rate, the volume is very small compared with the import volume.

The export volume was only 41 million dollars in 2007 whereas the import volume added up to 336 million USD. This sharp contrast indicated that China's biopharmaceutical products accounted for a very low market ratio in international market.

China's Minister of Agriculture Du Qinglin stated in July 2006 that science and technology should contribute up to 63% of the growth of Chinese agriculture sector by 2020. The minister outlined five areas that will be the focus of China in attempt to take advantage of biotechnology in agriculture, including GM cotton and rice, safe farm products, agricultural equipments, and research institutions.

Approved in 1982 and implemented for three Five-year Plans, the program includes three major issues: agriculture, new and high technologies and social development. The research on biological technologies is focused on agricultural breeding, gene medicine, marine biological products and the industrialization on key technologies.

The program was approved in march 1986 (because of that date it is simply called "863"). Its objective was to develop frontier high technology to narrow the gap between China and developed countries. The program lists biotechnology as one of seven targeted areas. '863' is China's biggest S&T development program. The budget for the 863 program has been raised from RMB 5.9 billion in the past 15 years to RMB 15 billion for the 10th 5-Year-Plan (2001-2005).

Established in 1988, the Torch Program aims to commercialize China's new and high technologies. The program encourages to invest in China's high technology zones.

Established in 1986, the Spark Program was the first program to promote the development of rural economy by relying on science and technology. One of the main contents of the program is the development of high yield, high quality and high effective agricultural products.

Since the start of China's Torch Program in August 1988, 53 "National Science and Technology Industrial Parks" (STIPs) have been approved by the State Council (State-Level Hi-Tech and New Technology Zones). By 2000, there were altogether 20,796 enterprises in the STIPs.

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Outline of biotechnology

Biotechnology is technology based on biology, especially when used in agriculture, food science, and medicine. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has come up with one of many definitions of biotechnology: Biotechnology means any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.

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Biotechnology portal

Mouse embryonic stem cells

Welcome to the Biotechnology portal. Biotechnology is a technology based on biology, especially when used in agriculture, food science, and medicine.

John Craig Venter (born October 14, 1946, Salt Lake City) is an American biologist and businessman. He began his academic career at a community college, College of San Mateo (California), after enlisting in the navy and serving a tour of duty during the Vietnam War. On returning, he received his bachelor's degree in biochemistry in 1972, and his Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology in 1975, both from the University of California, San Diego. After working at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, he joined the National Institutes of Health in 1984.

While at NIH, Venter learned of a technique for rapidly identifying all of the mRNAs present in a cell, and began to use it to rapidly identify human brain genes. The short cDNA sequence fragments discovered by this method are called Expressed sequence tags, or ESTs, a name coined by Anthony Kerlavage at The Institute for Genomic Research. In a controversial court case, Venter tried to patent these gene fragments and lost the case.

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Source : Wikipedia