May 27, 2009

Biotechnology - What Are the Career Options After That?

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Biotechnology is a bundle of techniques that are applied to living cells. The work of biotech engineer is to produce these living cells into a particular product of improved quality. This technology is the exploitation of natural resources at the microbial and molecular level for the benefit of mankind. It normally deals with the management of living organisms for improving the products, enhance plants and animals or generate microorganisms for making human life much better.

In today's world, biotechnology is related to the genetic information of living organisms that are called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). This high technology supports the transformation of so-called codes of nature. Students, who have keen interest in Biotechnology and want to make their bright future in this field, have a lot of career opportunities in this field. Students can do specialization in any of the six main fields of biotechnology.

1) Biomedical Engineer: - A biomedical engineer is an expert to form artificial body parts that are called prostheses. Students, who have specialization in this field, can make their career as physical therapists, computer hardware engineer, mechanical engineer and surgeons too.

2) Clinical Laboratory Technologists: - Students can also do specialization for checking the symptoms of any disease as well as to detect body fluids and tissues. In this field, one can work as a pathologist, chemist, biological or a material scientist.

3) Forensic Scientists: - A forensic scientist or crime laboratory analyst provides significant scientific information that can be crucial for the criminal proceedings. The career options of this field are detectives, archaeologists and anthropologists.

4) Pharmacists: - The work of pharmacists is to distribute medicines as well as guiding patients for correct medication and appropriate dosage. In this field, there are unlimited career options that include advanced practice nurses, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists and pharmacy technicians.

5) Medical Scientists: - A medical scientist conducts intensive research on bacteria and different viruses that are the root cause of various diseases and they utilize their research for creating a variety of medicines and vaccines to treat these diseases.

6) Biological Scientists: - This field includes the study of animals, plants and microscopic organisms. Students can work in various fields such as food and agricultural scientists, pharmacists, veterinarians, biomedical engineers, conservation, general practitioners.

In short, Biotechnology is one of the most prominent branches of future. This is an interdisciplinary science that relies on biology and other subjects as mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering. After completing this course, one can easily get a good job in this field.

Biotechnology Timeline: Important Events And Discoveries In Biotechnology

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1977:

The Age of biotechnology arrives with “somatostatin” - a human growth hormone-releasing inhibitory factor, the first human protein manufactured in bacteria by Genentech, Inc. A synthetic, recombinant gene was used to clone a protein for the first time.

1978:

Genentech, Inc. and The City of Hope National Medical Center announce the successful laboratory production of human insulin using recombinant DNA technology. Hutchinson and Edgell show it is possible to introduce specific mutations at specific sites in a DNA molecule.

1979:

Sir Walter Bodmer suggests a way of using DNA technology to find gene markers to show up specific genetic diseases and their carriers. John Baxter reports cloning the gene for human growth hormone.

1980:

The prokaryote model, E. coli, is used to produce insulin and other medicine, in human form. Researchers successfully introduce a human gene - one that codes for the protein interferon- into a bacterium. The U.S. patent for gene cloning is awarded to Cohen and Boyer.

1981:

Scientists at Ohio University produce the first transgenic animals by transferring genes from other animals into mice. The first gene-synthesizing machines are developed. Chinese scientists successfully clone a golden carp fish.

1982:

Genentech, Inc. receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market genetically engineered human insulin. Applied Biosystems, Inc. introduces the first commercial gas phase protein sequencer.

1983:

The polymerase chain reaction is invented by Kary B Mullis. The first artificial chromosome is synthesized, and the first genetic markers for specific inherited diseases are found.

1984:

Chiron Corp. announces the first cloning and sequencing of the entire human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) genome. Alec Jeffreys introduces technique for DNA fingerprinting to identify individuals. The first genetically engineered vaccine is developed.

1985:

Cetus Corporation's develops GeneAmp polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, which could generate billions of copies of a targeted gene sequence in only hours. Scientists find a gene marker for cystic fibrosis on chromosome number 7.

1986:

The first genetically engineered human vaccine - Chiron's Recombivax HB - is approved for the prevention of hepatitis B. A regiment of scientists and technicians at Caltech and Applied Biosystems, Inc. invented the automated DNA fluorescence sequencer.

1987:

The first outdoor tests on a genetically engineered bacterium are allowed. It inhibits frost formation on plants. Genentech's tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), sold as Activase, is approved as a treatment for heart attacks.

1988:

Harvard molecular geneticists Philip Leder and Timothy Stewart awarded the first patent for a genetically altered animal, a mouse that is highly susceptible to breast cancer

1989:

UC Davis scientists develop a recombinant vaccine against the deadly rinderpest virus. The human genome project is set up, a collaboration between scientists from countries around the world to work out the whole of the human genetic code.

1990:

The first gene therapy takes place, on a four-year-old girl with an immune-system disorder called ADA deficiency. The human genome project is formally launched.

1991:

Mary-Claire King, of the University of California, Berkeley, finds evidence that a gene on chromosome 17 causes the inherited form of breast cancer and also increases the risk of ovarian cancer. Tracey the first transgenic sheep is born.

1992:

The first liver xenotransplant from one type of animal to another is carried out successfully. Chiron's Proleukin is approved for the treatment of renal cell cancer.

1993:

The FDA declares that genetically engineered foods are "not inherently dangerous" and do not require special regulation. Chiron's Betaseron is approved as the first treatment for multiple sclerosis in 20 years.

1994:

The first genetically engineered food product, the Flavr Savr tomato, gained FDA approval. The first breast cancer gene is discovered. Genentech's Nutropin is approved for the treatment of growth hormone deficiency.

1995:

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center transplanted hearts from genetically altered pigs into baboons, proving that cross-species operations are possible. The bacterium Haemophilus influenzae is the first living organism in the world to have its entire genome sequenced.

1996:

Biogen's Avonex is approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The discovery of a gene associated with Parkinson's disease provides an important new avenue of research into the cause and potential treatment of the debilitating neurological ailment.

1997:

Researchers at Scotland's Roslin Institute report that they have cloned a sheep--named Dolly--from the cell of an adult ewe. The FDA approves Rituxan, the first antibody-based therapy for cancer.

1998:

The first complete animal genome the C.elegans worm is sequenced. James Thomson at Wisconsin and John Gearhart in Baltimore each develop a technique for culturing embryonic stem cells.

1999:

A new medical diagnostic test will for the first time allow quick identification of BSE/CJD a rare but devastating form of neurologic disease transmitted from cattle to humans.

2000:

"Golden Rice," modified to make vitamin A. Cloned pigs are born for the first time in work done by Alan Coleman and his team at PPL, the Edinburgh-based company responsible for Dolly the sheep.

2001:

The sequence of the human genome is published in Science and Nature, making it possible for researchers all over the world to begin developing genetically based treatments for disease.

2002:

Researchers sequence the DNA of rice, and is the first crop to have its genome decoded.

2003:

The sequencing of the human genome is completed

The Benefits Of Agricultural Biotechnology

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Agricultural biotechnology is any technique in which living organisms, or parts of organisms are altered to make or modify agricultural products, to improve crops, or develop microbes for specific uses in agricultural processes. Simply put, when the tools of biotechnology are applied to agriculture, it is termed as "agricultural biotechnology". Genetic engineering is also a part of agricultural biotechnology in today’s world. It is now possible to carry out genetic manipulation and transformation on almost all plant species, including all the world's major crops.

Plant transformation is one of the tools involved in agricultural biotechnology, in which genes are inserted into the genetic structure or genome of plants. The two most common methods of plant transformation are Agrobacterium Transformation - methods that use the naturally occurring bacterium; and Biolistic Transformation – involving the use of mechanical means. Using any of these methods the preferred gene is inserted into a plant genome and traditional breeding method followed to transfer the new trait into different varieties of crops.

Production of food crops has become much cheaper and convenient with the introduction of agricultural biotechnology. Specific herbicide tolerant crops have been engineered which makes weed control manageable and more efficient. Pest control has also become more reliable and effective, eliminating the need for synthetic pesticides as crops resistant to certain diseases and insect pests have also been engineered. Phytoremediation is the process in which plants detoxify pollutants in the soil, or absorb and accumulate polluting substances out of the soil. Several crops have now been genetically engineered for this purpose for safe harvest and disposal, and improvement of soil quality.

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), in reference to a section specific to the major biotechnology derived field crops, out of the whole crop plantings in the United States in 2004, biotechnology plantings accounted for about 46 percent for corn, 76 percent for cotton, and 85 percent for soybeans.

Modern agricultural biotechnology has now become a very well-developed science. The use of synthetic pesticides that may be harmful to man, and pollute groundwater and the environment, has been significantly lessened with the introduction of genetically engineered insect-resistant cotton. Herbicide-tolerant soybeans and corn have also enabled the use of reduced-risk herbicides that break down more quickly in soil. These are nontoxic to plants or animals, and herbicide-tolerant crops help preserve topsoil from erosion since they thrive better in no-till or reduced tillage agriculture systems. Papayas resistant to the ring spot virus were also developed through genetic engineering, which saved the U.S. papaya industry.

Agricultural biotechnology may also be helpful in improving and enhancing the nutritious quality of certain crops. For example, enhancing the levels of beta-carotene in canola, soybean, and corn improves oil compositions, and reduces vitamin A deficiencies in rice. There are also researches going on in the field of biotechnology to produce crops that will not be affected by harsh climates or environments and that will require less water, fertilizer, labor etc. This would greatly reduce the demands and pressures on land and wildlife.