Healthcare biotechnology - red biotech
The healthcare sector, which includes diagnostic systems and innovative therapies, constitutes the leading segment of the whole biotechnological industry on an international level.
In the last decades, the use of biotech in medicine has led to a series of important developments in several fields.
The recombinant human insulin produced by genetically modified bacteria was the first biotech drug (1982). Since then, the use of biotechnology has led to the marketing of nearly 200 biotechnology products, including drugs, vaccines and advanced therapies, which together represent 40% of those registered. About 50% of all new drugs and therapies in development for the foreseeable future will originate from biotechnology, and the proportion is growing in the most innovative treatments such as vaccines, monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases/infectious diseases, cell therapy, gene therapy and regenerative medicine. To date, millions of patients who suffer from diseases of great importance, or suffering from rare diseases, find in biotech drugs effective treatments and/or cures. In particular, a decisive contribution of biotechnology is placed on prevention through the development of vaccines: infectious diseases such as polio, measles, hepatitis A, B and C, diphtheria, tetanus, cholera, rabies, meningitis, tuberculosis, and many others have been addressed (and in some cases even eradicated) with the aid of biotech vaccines. In addition, biotechnology play (and especially will play) a key role in the development of personalized medicine: the approach to personalized treatment involves the use of analytical tools and molecular diagnostic tests, with the aim to prescribe the drugs "made to measure", most appropriate, effective and targeted as possible focusing on the needs of individual patients.
Today for many diseases you can make an early diagnosis in time to locate and treat them with highly specific methods. A major problem with which we had to face in recent decades was the question of the "window period", the period of time that elapses between the first infection of a virus and the time at which a diagnostic test detects the antibody response. During the "window period" which can vary from a few weeks to several months, the tests were negative: in this way, a person with HIV or hepatitis B was considered healthy while, on the contrary, they had been infected. Thanks to biotechnology it had been possible to develop techniques such as PCR, which allowed the immediate identification of the presence of viral DNA in the infected patient. Other biotechnology techniques, such as ASO, FRET and OLA, are used by laboratories around the world to identify mutations in the genome, confirming the suspicions of a certain disease or making a definite clinical diagnosis.
In the development of increasingly targeted and effective products, the convergence of nanotechnology and biotechnology is a powerful tool available to researchers in the diagnosis and treatment of a large number of diseases, in the development of means for the controlled release of drugs and in the field of biomaterials with a variety of applications in the life sciences and in the engineering of connective tissues of the human body, until the realization of the vital organs (eg regenerative medicine). The nanobiotech is a highly multidisciplinary field of investigation, involving fields of research ranging from molecular biology to chemistry, materials science to physics, both applied and basic, to engineering mechanics and electronics.
Between the healthcare and wellness, there are many uses of molecular biology in cosmetics: hyaluronic acid and other fillers commonly used are in fact biotech-sourced. In particular, the new frontier of anti-aging has been disclosed with the advent of natural active ingredients modified with biotechnology, often extracted according to the so-called biocorrelation systems, which allow you to make the most of the active ingredients with no waste, saving trees and plants.
Biotechnology for Animal Healthcare
In the field of veterinary medicine, biotechnology are of considerable importance in various fields:
Global trade, migration and climate changes may increase the spread of highly infectious diseases and zoonoses such as avian influenza. In these cases, vaccination is the only way to protect animals against infectious diseases and help protect consumers from zoonotic pathogens. In recent years, there have been many vaccines produced using biotechnological techniques (among which, for example, vaccines against rabies, epizoonotic apthae and rinderpest virus): intervening with these vaccines and specific therapies can ensure that the animals reach their maximum weight in good health, while allowing farmers to maintain the productivity of their livestock.
Use of stem cells, both for regenerative therapy and for use in drug production
In the field of regenerative medicine, the interest in veterinary medicine is for now limited to the equine, feline and canine species and the application field is orthopedic (ligament-tendon, bone and articular cartilage).
In the future, the molecular and cellular approach may allow, at least in part, to replace drugs such as antibiotics and chemotherapeutics, ensuring important benefits in the treatment of neoplastic, neuro-degenerative, cardiovascular and skin diseases.