The Implications of Biotechnology for Medical Research & Healthcare
As medical research speeds ahead with advances in disease and injury treatment, biomanufacturing is becoming more common. In fact, in medicine, biotechnology is the future. Biomanufacturing is creating a biologic from living cells, and is being researched in food production and other industrial purposes – not just medicine.
The use of biologics in medicine, though, isn’t all that new. Insulin was the first biologic ever created; grown inside E.coli cells. However, the ability of E.coli cells to produce really complex biologics is limited, so has hampered past research and development in medical biotech.
Initially, researchers must manipulate a living cell into producing a desired protein. Then, they establish a production line of the cell for use in future research and development. This is how they can control the quality and consistency of a cell during trials.
These are referred to as cell banks, and allow researchers to source individual, super-cooled vials of the initial cell line, thaw them, and let them proliferate, leaving the majority of the cell line in storage. It is a completely ethical and effective way of supplying research material.
Recent Developments in Medical Biomanufacturing
To get a better idea of what’s happening in the biomedical field, let’s take a look at some major developments from the last few years:
- Cell Design: Biomanufacturing companies are using the ability to manipulate cells in a laboratory setting in order to create cells that treat cancer, CNS diseases and genetic disorders.
- Chinese Hamster Ovaries: Yup – you read that right. Medical researchers have found that growing biologics inside this type of cell is as safe and effective as the standard E.coli cells currently used.
- Stem Cell Research: Minimal manipulation of stem cells, which are injected into diseased or injured tissue, secrete growth factors at the site and encourage the body to heal the injury itself.
- Tissue Nanotransfection: By injecting skin cells with genetic code, tissue transfection turns those skin cells into the relevant cell needed to treat the targeted disease or injury. One study in mice found one application of TNT’d skin cells completely repaired injured legs over the course of a few weeks by transforming into vascular cells.
What Does the Advancement of Biotech Mean for Disease Treatment?
While the biopharmaceutical industry began in the 1980’s, developments in biotech, like regenerative therapies, now focus on proteins, amino acids, antibodies, and growth factors. This has had very positive implications for immunology, cancer treatment, and the development of non-surgical interventions for torn tendons, muscles, and other diseased or injured tissues. Who knows? Maybe one day there will be no need for synthetic chemicals anywhere in medicine.