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Medical Biotechnology

Technology in the medical sciences

Introduction


Throughout the course of human history, the foundation of medicine has predominantly relied upon biochemistry. Whereby, scientists utilise naturally occurring and artificially synthesised chemical compounds to elicit therapeutic responses within the body. However, during the 21st century, the field of medicine witnessed a paradigm shift towards medical biotechnology- driving major breakthroughs in healthcare.


What is medical biotechnology?


Medical biotechnology can be defined as the use of living organisms or their products to investigate, understand and target biological systems in order to improve healthcare outcomes. By integrating the principles of genetic engineering and biological processes, scientists are able to develop novel pharmaceuticals and create diagnostic tools for disease management.


Major advancements in medical biotechnology


A groundbreaking technology within this field is the CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) — Cas9 system. Which utilises CRISPR-associated protein Cas9 and guide RNA (gRNA) as a molecular tool to precisely modify genetic material. By harnessing this gene editing system, scientists can manipulate specific DNA sequences and modulate gene expression, making it an invaluable tool towards precision medicine. Its ability to correct genetic defects has shown promise in the future development of targeted therapies for genetic diseases.


Regenerative medicine, another frontier in medical biotechnology aims to regenerate damaged or diseased tissues and organs. This interdisciplinary field integrates principles from tissue engineering and stem cell biology to enable tissue repair and regeneration. Stem cells possess a remarkable capacity to self-renew and differentiate into various specialised cell types. Through research biotechnologists seek to engineer functional tissues and organs for transplantation or stimulate the body's innate regenerative abilities.


The development of vaccines is yet another critical aspect of medical biotechnology. Vaccines are designed to stimulate the immune system and confer immunity against specific pathogens, thereby preventing infectious diseases. Modern biotechnology techniques, such as genetic engineering and cell culture, enable cost-effective vaccine development.


Recombinant DNA technology enables antigen production in non-pathogenic host cells, eliminating the need for pathogen harvesting. Ongoing advancements include RNA/DNA vaccines, allowing antigen production within recipients' bodies.


Conclusion


Medical biotechnology continues to play a pivotal role in advancing scientific knowledge and enhancing disease diagnostics and treatment. It holds immense promise for the future of healthcare, particularly in the field of precision medicine. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that this technology also carries inherent risks. Misuse can lead to negative consequences, such as bioterrorism and other destructive outcomes.


By Komal Nasir


Related article: Biggest innovations in the biosciences currently

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