From ancient biotechnology to modern, biotechnology has evolved profoundly and has gained exceptional importance and significance during recent years, which is just unprecedented. From vaccinations to mapping human DNA to agricultural impacts, medical biotechnology is creating major advancements and helping countless individuals.
The intricacy of biotechnology is augmented due to enhancements and the developments of new technologies, as these are based on the technological advancements with a more improved comprehending the conventions of fundamental science. Biotechnology is technology based on the core values of biology. Biotechnology harnesses biological and biomolecular processes to develop technologies, ultimately, aiming to advance human life and our environment. Medical biotechnology is a branch of medicine that specifically utilises living cells and cell materials to research, and then produce pharmaceutical and diagnosing products.
Modernised technologies and products are developed and enhanced every year within medical biotechnology. Medical biotechnology has been very successful and has advanced comprehensively. In hospitals, surgeons and doctors are able to operate on patients remotely from their computers, guiding robotic arms to an accuracy of a few centimetres. Laboratories are equipped with the state advanced technologies, even so that human beings can be broken down into genetic codes.
In 1831, Robert Brown had discovered nucleus in cells. In 1868, Fredrich Miescher, a biologist discovered nucleon, a compound that was made up of nucleic acid that was extracted from white blood cells. Becoming the foundation of modern molecular biology, for the discovery of DNA as a genetic material, and the role of DNA in transfer of genetic information. In 1888, Heinrich Wilhelm Gottfried Von Waldeyer-Hartz, a German scientist who identified ‘chromosomes.’ Chromosomes are DNA molecules and protein present in a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements, and other nucleotide sequences. Edward Jenner, a physician and Louis Pasteur, a biologist, both played a major role during this period. Jenner and Pasteur developed a vaccination for rabies and smallpox.
Vaccinations (Example of medical biotechnology)
The aim of vaccinations is to use inactive or weakened microorganisms to increase the initial immune response. Advancements in biotechnology have enabled scientists to produce vaccines that won’t be able to transmit dangerous bacteria and viruses. Biotechnology is fuelling the development of new vaccines to prevent a variety of cancers. Edward Jenner invented vaccines and now scientists have developed vaccines for some of the most prevalent cancers, including the cervical vaccines, a vaccine that attacks cancer cells in cancers such as prostate, lung and breast.
Antibiotics (Example of medical biotechnology)
Antibiotics are biotechnological products and are an example of the applications of medical biotechnology. Antibiotics treat a diverse range infections and diseases caused by bacteria. Antibiotics are compounds produced by bacteria and fungi which constrain the growth of bacteria or kill bacteria. Antibiotics are naturally produced by microorganisms, for e.g. fungi, to obtain advantage of bacteria inhabitants.
Before biological understanding, and the development of antibiotics (specifically penicillin) there was no effective treatment for common infections such as pneumonia or rheumatic fever. Hospitals were overflowing with people with blood poisoning contracted from a cut or a scratch, however doctors had no effective treatment to treat the patient and told them to wait patiently and hope for the best. However, more improved and advanced equipment and technology in hospitals now has enabled doctors to provide more comprehensive care to patients, more technological treatments have improved the quality of life for people suffering with long-term illnesses.
Over the years, herbal remedies have been utilised for the treatment of infections. Quinine a herbal derived medicine that was used to treat malaria, originates in South America, from the bark of a cinchona tree. Today, cinchona bark is used as a synthetic form to treat the disease. The use of the cinchona tree was described in the 1600s by the Jesuit missionaries.
Penicillin, invented by Alexander Fleming (in 1928), was the first original antibiotic and began the era of antibiotics. Penicillin is produced by fungi and green mould (Penicillium notatum). Penicillium is an antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections. The process of producing penicillium is rather simple, the process includes five fundamental steps:
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- Extracting penicillium mould
- Fermentation tanks
- Separate mould from penicillium extract
- Used as antibiotic medicine
In conclusion, biotechnology has brought a number of remarkable changes to the health industry throughout the years. Biotechnology as a whole has advanced largely over the years and possesses countless benefits helping humanity in developing new treatments for deadly diseases, and has managed to modify cellular structure of plants, animals and has even helped to identify and develop products. Biotechnological processes have advanced profoundly due to the technology scientists are enabled to use to research and develop new products.
The social and ethical implications
Biotechnology plays a predominant role in society and has managed to modify cellular structure of plants, animals and has contributed in identifying and develop products. Biotechnology has brought many reforms plant, animal and human life. Scientists have been successful in modifying plants, organisms, human beings as well as animals utilising a diverse range of techniques and tools of biotechnology. Biotechnology has extensively enhanced the condition of human and animal living, accompanying the positive impacts of biotechnology come with the negative impacts of biotechnology.
The potential benefits of biotechnology include:
- solving world food shortages
- predominant advancements in medicine field
- agriculture (better tasting fruit and vegetables)
- veterinary science
Biotechnology is aiding society to find solutions to essential industrial processes that currently produce toxic effluents. Biotechnology is as old as humanity and even present before we’re born, from fertility assistance to prenatal screening. It’s happening in our everyday lives with immunisations and antibiotics, both of which have immensely improved and increased life expectancy.
Despite all of the positive impacts of biotechnology, it also has disadvantages, and there are some concerns about its potential negative impacts. In agriculture, there are concerns for implications that genetically modified crops may transfer genetic material into organic, unmodified plants. For instance, a crop that is herbicide resistant may transfer some of its traits to a weed that doesn’t have herbicide, which essentially results in an herbicide resistant weed. Another major issue regarding agricultural biotechnology is the unpredictability of the long-term viability of genetically modified crops.
The long-term social implications of biotechnology is the genetic alteration of various organisms, from bacteria in pharmaceuticals to the animals in biological research to the plants in agriculture are not known. Genetically modified organisms are made by inserting a gene of bacteria or viruses and tis may cause a decrease in the biodiversity amongst organisms.
Biotechnology is one of the advancing science fields receiving a lot of ethical implications and concerns some of which is the availability and use of privileged information, ecological harm of the usage, entitlement to new drugs and treatment, and the idea of interfering with nature. Another ethical dilemma in society that is commonly raised is the significant expenses and cost to get entire access to new ground-breaking treatments. Expensive drugs such as the ‘tissue plasminogen activator’, used to prevent clots that are known to cause strokes and heart attacks. Colony-stimulator factors for cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy, are intensely costly.
Ethical concerns start when scientists use humans and animals as clinical trial subjects for treatments and new solutions for illnesses or diseases. Individuals in society will often try different treatments to find a solution to whatever they may be dealing with, if there is no current cure. Activists are belittling of animals being objects to test new medications in biotechnology. Biotech scientists are manipulating animal genes to improve human life, this restrains the animal’s freedom.
In conclusion, biotechnology is extremely multifaceted and has innumerable advantages on society but also comes with numerous disadvantages that have a significant impact on individuals and society. Without any aspects of biotechnology there would simply be no form of life. However, biotechnology faces a lot of short and long-term ethical and social implications that will or have an effect on humanity and go against religious or personal values and principles.
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