Biotechnology in Pharmaceutical Sciences

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Chapter: Pharmaceutical Microbiology : Recombinant DNA Technology

The rapid developments in biotechnology and the applications of genetic engineering to practical human problems have allowed the advancement of pharmaceutical biotechnology at a staggering pace. Furthermore, the release of the human genome sequence has also been key for the identification of human genetic diseases and the design of revolutionary approaches for their treatment.


RECOMBINANT  DNA TECHNOLOGY

 

INTRODUCTION: BIOTECHNOLOGY IN PHARMACEUTICAL SCIENCES

 

The rapid developments in biotechnology and the applications of genetic engineering to practical human problems have allowed the advancement of pharmaceutical biotechnology at a staggering pace. Furthermore, the release of the human genome sequence has also been key for the identification of human genetic diseases and the design of revolutionary approaches for their treatment.

 

Genetic engineering involves altering DNA molecules outside an organism, making the resultant DNA molecules function in living cells. Many of these cells have been genetically engineered to produce substances that are medically useful to humans. Pharmaceutical biotechnology involves the use of living organisms such as microorganisms to create new pharmaceutical products, or safer and more effective versions of conventionally produced pharmaceuticals, more cost-effectively.

 

Since the manufacture of the first recombinant pharmaceutical, insulin, there has been a burst in the generation of new recombinant drugs, some of which will be covered later on in this chapter. Furthermore, the use of recombinant DNA technology has spread further allowing the development not only of subunit vaccines, such as the one used in the prevention of hepatitis B, but also of attenuated vaccines, vector vaccines and DNA vaccines. One of pharmaceutical biotechnology’s great potentials lies in gene therapy, which consists in the modification of the genetic material of living cells to prevent, control or cure disease. It encompasses repairing or replacing defective genes and, for example, making tumours more susceptible to other kinds of treatment.

 

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