Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical products
Many of the most traditional pharmaceutical drugs are developed from molecules that are relatively simple and have been discovered largely through trial and error and were used to treat the symptoms of an illness or disease. Proteins are large biological molecules and are called biopharmaceuticals which usually target the causation mechanisms of an illness. This is not always true, however, as in the case of the use of insulin to treat type 1 diabetes which is a treatment that simply addresses the symptoms of the disease and not the underlying cause which is autoimmunity. Pharmaceutical products developed through biotechnology can deal with targets in humans that may not be accessible through the use of traditional medicines. A patient is typically dosed with a large molecule with an injection while the small molecule is dosed with a tablet.
Large molecules are created by living cells such as those found in the human body including plant and animal cells, yeast cells, and bacteria cells while small molecules are manufactured by chemistry.
Biotechnology is quite often associated with the use of microorganisms which have been genetically altered such as yeast or E. coli which are used during the manufacture of some synthetic substances like antibiotics or insulin. It can also refer to transgenic plants or animals. Mammalian cells which have been genetically altered are also often used to produce certain pharmaceuticals. The development of plant made pharmaceuticals is another promising new biotechnology application.
Biotechnology has also been routinely associated with significant breakthroughs in new medical therapies to treat cardiovascular disorders, multiple sclerosis, bone fractures, hemophilia, arthritis, cancers, and hepatitis B and C. The biotechnology industry has also proved to be instrumental in the development of diagnostic molecular devices which can then be utilized to establish the patient population target for a known biopharmaceutical.
Biotechnology can also be used to manufacture existing medicines relatively inexpensively and easily. The first products that were genetically engineered were medicines that were designed to treat human diseases. Insulin, which is widely used for the treatment of diabetes, use to be extracted from the pancreas of the abattoir animals. In 2003 the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) conducted a study on the availability of and access to insulin by members of their own countries. It was determined that while human synthetic insulin is much more expensive in those countries where both animal and human synthetic insulin were commercially available, there was no overwhelming evidence shown to prefer one species of insulin over another and that animal insulin remained a completely acceptable alternative.
Modern biotechnology has evolved, making it possible to produce more inexpensive erythropoietin, fertility drugs, clotting factors for hemophiliacs, and human growth hormone and other drugs.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biotechnology - cite_note-USIS-10