Biomedical Engineering Research Foundation  





What is Biotechnology?

It is the application of biological organism, system or process to the manufacturing and service industries. It can also be defined as the applications of scientific and engineering principles to the processing of materials by biological agents to provide goods and services.

Need for Biotechnology.

Many people have heard of biotechnology but few seem to know how to find out more about it. The following is the glimpse for those who have found out to know more about it. With the advances is Bioscience (both fundamental and applied) as well as the development of individual disciplines such as biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, molecular biology, engineering and other technologies, man’s thinking has become more lucid and almost single mindedly directed towards harvesting economic benefits. A beautiful blend of concepts and techniques pertaining to the above-mentioned disciplines has given birth to the clever science called Biotechnology.

Biotechnology Domains

A. Fermentation Biotechnology

I. Fermentation

Microbial processing of raw materials for the production of enriched food, (single cell protein and specific flavor) pharmaceutical and alcoholic beverages is known to as from time immemorial days the process called fermentation.

II. Bioconversion

The biological conversion of ethanol into acetic acid (vinegar), isopropanal into acetone, glucose into gluconic acid and sorbitol into sorbose are explicit examples of bioconversion.

III. Antibiotic Production

A practical definition of an antibiotic is a microbial product of low molecular weight that specifically interferes with the growth of microorganisms when it is present in very small amount. Commercially antibiotics are the most important class of pharmaceuticals made by microbial biotechnology process. In 1978, the worldwide bulk sales of the four important groups of antibiotics namely the penicillin, the cephalosporin, the tetracycline and erythromycin amounted to more than 60 billion rupees.

IV. Production of Aminoacids and Vitamins

Aminoacids and vitamins are the primary metabolites and low molecular weight compounds (up to 15 kDa). Generally microbes do not overproduce these primary metabolites. However, there is a technology (genetic engineering) to produce such strains which do over produce is thus exploited for the industrial purposes.

V. Production of Energy

Biogas, ethanol production, biophotolysis and hydrogen photo production, utilization and degradation of cellulose and other non-conventional bioenergy sources for the production of energy is one of the thrust areas for both developing and developed countries.

VI. Mining and metal biotechnology

Mineral cycling, microbial transformation of metals, leaching and extraction of metals by biotechnological techniques are novel, economic and environmental friendly techniques.

B. DNA Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering

I. Recombinant DNA and Genetic Engineering
Desired genes (short sequences of DNA) can be restricted (cut) and isolated with the help of restriction enzymes (endonucleases) and Agarose Gel Electrophoresis (AGE).

With the help of vectors (Plasmid / Phage) these desired genes can be cloned and selected by probing techniques. These genetically engineered microbes, plant crops and animals are going to play a vital role in the poverty alleviation and malnutrition in near future. Genetically engineered salinity and drought resistant plants, plants with insect repellent proteins and fruits with delayed ripening are boon to our society which are the inventions by biotechnological skills. Genetically engineered (cloned) animals are having high milk and meat yielding potentiality.

II. Public Health and DNA Biotechnology
Hybridomas and preparation of monoclonal antibodies, lymphokines, MHC and T Cell cloning are having many applications on human health especially on the cancer therapy and viral disease treatment.

Production of human insulin is the hallmark of commercial utility of microbial biotechnology. In the same facet the production of interferon, growth hormone and other hormones and vaccines with the help of microorganisms are definitely going to play a pivotal role in human well being and economy soon.

III. DNA Biotechnology and Agriculture

New varieties of (high yielding and disease resistant) crop and medicinal plants are created by transferring genes from different biotic and synthetic sources into them. It is now possible to transfer foreign gene into plant cells, which can transform it to a transgenic plant. Herbicide tolerance; resistance to insect pest; resistance to viral diseases; control of pathogenic bacteria, fungi and parasitic nematodes; nitrogen fixation; phosphate solubilisation; ability to grow in harsh environment and delayed ripening of fruits are some of the biotechnological applications in agriculture.

IV. Biotechnology and Pollutant Degradation

By strain improvement (genetic engineering) techniques naturally available (native) microorganism which are degrading and detoxifying solid organic wastes and waste water by enhanced production of their enzymes such as protease, lipase, cellulose, hemicellulose, pectinose, ligninase etc. have opened a new era in pollution control. Therefore reclaiming thousands of hectares of wasteland for agricultural purposes and millions of gallons of water for irrigation have come as boon of biotechnological waste land and water treatment plants.

C. Cell Biotechnology and Recent advancements

Plant and animal cell (tissue) cultures; transformation and raising mutants in them using plasmid and phage gene transfer techniques along with protoplasmic and cell fusion are evincing some of the biotechnological spotlights. The above techniques have the potentiality to give us the following: a) hybrid antibiotics, b) cell immobilization c) production of biomolecules such as essential aminoacids, d) high temperature resistant enzymes, e) vaccines (hepatitis), f) thoumatin (sweetener) g) biofertilizers, h) biopesticides, i) biofilters, j) biofuels, k) biochips and l) biosensors etc..

Need for biotechnology specialization

Advances in Science & Technology and Engineering have opened many avenues such as biomedical engineering, biochemical engineering, protein engineering, genetic engineering etc., which are growing very rapidly due to the advances in information technology.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate students from agriculture, botany, biochemistry, biotechnology, chemical engineering, home science, medicine, molecularbiology, microbiology, nutrition, paramedical sciences, veterinary science, zoology and after undergoing a training program on basic techniques of biotechnology and bioinformatics in our R & D lab would find themselves fit in any R & D lab related to biotechnology and bioinformatics, diagnostic and investigative laboratories of biotechnology and biomedical engineering from India and abroad including US.

Students who have higher qualification in any one of the above disciplines can earn much higher salary than what is mentioned below. Today biotechnology industries are the hottest business, which have the efficacy to surpass any other business in India due to the following reasons:

Low cost labor.

Availability of scientifically and technologically educated unemployed youths.

Immense skill and ability in terms of quality they do possess by nature.

Rupee Vs Dollar ratio

Biotechnological application in all the human economic activities.

Therefore, it is not surprising to see new biotechnology companies sprouting in both urban and rural areas of India, which could give local placements with nice pay scale for those who are technically qualified apart from their academic qualification.

Future for Biotechnology

Globally thousands of different job opportunities being created in both developed and developing countries like UK and US who are keen in diversification of their multinational companies in setting up biotechnological industries in major cities and towns throughout our country.
Graduates and postgraduates after this training program could find easily themselves be employed in U.S.A. Thereby, they can earn around 2500 – 5000 US dollars (Rupees. 1,20,000 – 2,40,000) / month at ease.
The time has come for tapping this unexplored resource of our country, which could take up our country par with the western world in per capita income. Biotechnology industries which are attracting billions of US dollars investments in India and expected to grow at a rate of 20 – 30 % per year. [top]

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