Biotechnology

Olivia Frisella

What is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products, or "any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use".

What is the role of DNA in Biotechnology?

DNA is what controls the cell’s jobs and helps the cells operate correctly. Scientists understand that DNA can be controlled to perform certain actions. Understanding DNA helps scientists come up with ideas to help create immunity against diseases and outbreaks in agriculture. They can also create plants that can withstand certain weather. Understanding DNA helps create new ideas that better life on earth like improving antibiotics and medicine. More and more people are learning so DNA has a big impact on biotechnology.

How is Biotechnology used in DNA testing?

A very important improvement Biotechnology in DNA has contributed is sequencing. Scientists can easily sequence whole genomes upward of 3 billion bases, which provides a great amount of information. Most genome sequencing is done by "shotgun" sequencing chunks of DNA in BACs, which is a sequencing technique that is everywhere on large parts of the genome. Over 180 different species have had their genomes sequenced. Biotechnology has improved DNA testing greatly because in the future, personal genomics will be created, where each person will have their genome sequenced, and people can see what types of medicines would be good for a person based on their genomic information. DNA technology and sequencing allows people to perform DNA tests to determine paternity, to calculate the risk of developing a genetic disorder, and even to identify a missing person or murderer.

How is Biotechnology used in health industry in making medicines like penicillin and insulin?

Biotechnology works to improve medicine and health by helping finding cures for certain diseases and improving antibiotics and vaccines so less people get affected. They try to build up immunity for certain diseases and prevent more outbreaks from happening. Biotechnology has contributed to the discovery of traditional small molecule pharmaceutical drugs as well as drugs that are results of biotechnology. The contribution of biotechnology to science has also made our understanding of biology and scientific knowledge of normal and disease biology a lot better. The skill people possess to develop new medicines to treat previously untreatable diseases has improved and is getting better. It is much better to research and create vaccines than it was in the past, and more effective vaccines can be made through biotechnology.

How is Biotechnology used in agriculture?

Biotechnology is used in agriculture by the scientists studying how to help a plant survive during cold winter and how for these plants to endure very dry heat or really windy storms. They help improve plants’ health. Genetically modified crops ("GM crops", or "biotech crops") are plants used in agriculture, the DNA has been modified using genetic techniques. Most goals the scientists try to reach is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. Examples in food crops include endurance to certain pests, diseases, stressful environmental conditions, resistance to a herbicide, reduction of spoilage, or improving the nutrients of the crop. Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation. GM crops also give benefits. Many people are concerned about the environment and GM crops. People aren't so sure whether food produced from GM crops is safe and how expensive these crops are. With Biotechnology added to plants, plants will have a possibility of not getting mushy when you put salad dressing on them or not spoiling when you put them in a fridge.

How is Biotechnology used in environmental clean-up (bioremediation)?

Bioremediation is a waste management technique that involves the use of organisms to remove or balance pollutants from an affected site. Biotechnology plays an important role in Bioremediation because the waste is broken down by microscopic organisms. The organisms were tested and researched using biotechnology to see what those organisms were capapble of breaking down. Bioremediation can effectively occur through the addition of fertilizers, oxygen, etc., that helps the growth of the pollution-eating microbes, which is using biotechnology.

What are the potential negative impacts of Biotechnology?

Some bad things about Biotechnology is nobody knows what Gm foods can do to humans, since it’s not natural, it can become very harmful and unhealthy for humans. The pesticides going on plants and ending up on fruits that we eat in the grocery store can affect us and can be very harmful. It goes against some peoples’ religions and if it leads to people living longer, it can cause starvation and overpopulation. Not only that, it’s quite expensive.

Doctor (Medical Biotechnology)

A doctor in medical biotechnology has a job to help discover new medicines to help cure diseases and illnesses. They use living cells and cell materials to find and produce pharmaceutical and diagnostic products that help treat and prevent human diseases. These "doctors" are called medical biotechnologists. Most medical biotechnologists work in academic or industrial places. In laboratories, these doctors direct experiments as part of medical research studies; industrial biotechnologists work toward developing drugs or vaccines. The medical biotechnology field has helped bring to market microbial pesticides, insect-resistant crops, and environmental clean-up techniques. Examples of discoveries in the field of medical biotechnology include insulin and growth hormone. Both discoveries were the result of research studies related to DNA. A lot of scientists in the medical biotechnology field study genetic engineering. This involves isolating, finding, and sequencing the human genes to determine their working process. Work in this arena could even result in cures for certain diseases, like Alzheimer’s syndrome. These biotechnologists work in universities, hospitals, government labs, or nonprofit organizations. Some may research studies they began in graduate school. Other people may look at new areas of medical biotechnological research.

Locations of Biotechnology companies and plants in North Carolina:

What's NC's national rank in Biotechnology?

North Carolina is ranked eighth for biotechnology activities in the United States. It is the fifth fastest growing center for biotechnology in the United States. Also, North Carolina is the 10th largest employer in the biotechnology industry.