Biotechnology refers to the application of biological systems, living organisms, or their derivatives in making or modifying products or processes for specific use. Biotechnology is used in various fields including agriculture, food science, and pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical companies use biotechnology for manufacturing drugs, pharmacogenomics, gene therapy, and genetic testing. Biotech companies make biotechnology products (more specifically said biotech pharmaceutical products) by manipulating and modifying organisms, usually at molecular level.
Pharmaceutical Biotechnology companies use recombinant DNA technology, which entails genetic manipulation of cells, or a monoclonal antibody for making their biotechnological products. These biotech pharmaceutical products made by the biotech companies are widely used in prevention, diagnosis or treatment of many types of diseases.
The conventional pharmaceutical formulations are relatively simple molecules manufactured mainly through trial and error technique for treating the symptoms of a disease or illness. On the other hand, biopharmaceuticals are complex biological molecules, commonly known as proteins, that usually aim at eliminating the underlying mechanisms for treating diseases. However, this is not true in all cases as in the case of type 1 diabetes mellitus where insulin is used to treat only the symptoms of the disease and not the underlying causes. Pharmaceutical biotechnology, essentially, is used to make complex larger molecules with the help of living cells (like those found in the human body such as bacteria cells, yeast cells, animal or plant cells). Unlike the smaller molecules that are given to a patient through tablets, the large molecules are typically injected into the patient's body.
When the two disciplines- pharmaceuticals and biotechnology- come together, they result in many advantages for humankind in terms of healthcare. This is possible through Pharmacogenomics (derived from 'pharmacology' and 'genomics') which refers to the study of how the genetic inheritance affects individual human body's response to drugs. Biopharmaceutical drugs aim at designing and producing drugs that are adapted to each person’s genetic makeup. Thus pharmaceutical biotechnology companies may develop tailor-made medicines for maximum therapeutic effects. Also, biotechnology drugs can be given to the patients in appropriate dosages as the doctor would know the patient’s genetics and how the body processes and metabolizes a medicine. One more benefit of pharmaceutical biotechnology is in the form of better vaccines. Biotech companies design and produce safer vaccines by organisms that are transformed through genetic engineering. These biotech vaccines minimize the risks of infection.
The common pharmaceutical biotechnology products that are made by the biotech pharmaceutical companies include, Antibodies, Proteins, and Recombinant DNA Products.
Antibodies- Antibodies are proteins that are produced by white blood cells and are used by the immune system to identify bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances and to fight them off. In the recent years, monoclonal antibodies are one of the most exciting developments in biotechnology pharmaceuticals.
Proteins- Proteins made of amino acids are large, complex molecules that do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Protein biotechnology is emerging as one of the key technologies of the future for understanding the development of many diseases like cancer or amyloid formation for better therapeutic intervention.
Recombinant DNA Products- Recombinant Deoxyribonucleic Acid is the genetically engineered DNA created by recombining fragments of DNA from different organisms. Some of the Recombinant DNA Products include