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Biotechnological Applications In Disease Treatment
A wide variety of compounds obtained from organisms is used in treatment of diseases. These compounds may be obtained from recombinant and non recombinant organisms.
A large number of products from non recombinant organisms serve as pharmaceuticals. In certain cases, the micro organisms as such serve as cure for certain diseases like, for eg: the lactobacillus species. Various products like antibiotics, vitamins, enzymes, organics acids etc., play an inevitable role in disease treatment. Pharmaceutically important biochemical is also produced from plant cell cultures. Cultured animal cells too play their role in prevention and treatment of diseases.
The major drawback in using products from non recombinant organisms is the lower availability the products and the comparatively limited ability of products to cure diseases. They have to be used in its natural form and hence the spectrum of diseases covered is not wide spread. The advent of genetic engineering has enabled large scale production of existing and new products in disease treatment. The products from genetic engineering include:
Genetically engineered micro organisms:
Human gene has been known to encode a large number of pharmaceutically important proteins. These are cloned and expressed in micro organisms for increased production. Microbes are used as hosts in cloning purposes. E. coli, yeast are some of the most common examples of microbes which are used as hosts. In yeast many recombinant proteins having pharmaceutical significance has been produced. Eg: recombinant insulin used in the treatment of diabetes, human growth hormone for dwarfism, interferon, interleukin, granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor, etc.
The most extensive protein developed in such a manner is human insulin. It consists of two chains known as A and B which are interlinked by two disulphide bridges. The gene coding was integrated separately to a host cell, expressed and modified to produce functional insulin.
Animal cell cultures are also used for expression of human genes encoding pharmaceutically valuable proteins. The main proteins produced by this way are erythropoietin and blood clotting factor VIII. Plant cells producing recombinant proteins are high in demand as many ethical issues related to animal cell culture do not exist with the transgenic plants. In the case of transgenic plants, the process of retrieval of recombinant proteins from the parts of plant cells is comparatively easy. The most relevant example of transgenic plants aiding in the disease treatment is production of a polypeptide called hirudin. This is produced by a synthetic gene expressed in the plant Brassica napus. This is produced as a fusion protein with oleisn which is an oil body protein. Upon successful integration and extraction, the hirudin is extracted with water and later centrifuged to separate our protein from the rest of the proteins produced with the help of oil body. The pure hirudin is separated from olesin by subjecting the obtained oil moisture to proteolytic cleavage.
Antisense nucleotides:
A novel approach of disease treatment is the production of antisense oligonucleotide. It involves production and use of oligonucleotides complementary to the 5’ end of the parasite mRNAs. This antisense oligonucleotide is often linked with acridine for increasing the effectiveness of the same. The application of such oligonucleotides is in the case of cancer.
Monoclonal antibodies:
These have been known to exhibit several therapeutic applications like providing passive immunity, treatment of certain diseases like leprosy, deliver of immunotoxins specifically to cancer cells etc.
Drug designing:
This involves designing special drugs for special requirements of disease or the patient. These are designed to specifically bind to the critical site of target molecules thus inactivating the latter. These are so designed so that they do not exhibit any side effects rather than conventional drugs. Important examples are propanolol used in treatment of hypertension or heart attacks. Another example is cimetidine which blocks the hydrogen receptor in the stomach so that it effects the formation of ulcers in the stomach curing it. This has served as an important mechanism in treatment of cancer, gout, malaria, etc. Thos has resulted in developing a drug called azidothymidine (AZT) for treatment against HIV.
Drug delivery and targeting:
An effective improvement in the disease treatment is the introduction of technique of drug targeting. Often it is seen that conventional medicines loose their activity or sometimes part of their activity as they follow general distribution pattern. In drug targeting, the drugs are so targeted so that it affects only the required tissues and does not act upon anything else. This greatly enhances the drug effects and limits the amount of dosage required. Immunotoxins are the main example of such site directed delivery of drugs.
Gene therapy is yet another novel approach in the field of disease treatment with many successful examples in treating disease like cancer. Studies are being conducted on improving and developing the procedure for large scale use.

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Red biotechnology is the term used to describe the biotechnological applications in the area of medicine. It can be majorly divided into pharmacogenomics, gene therapy, biopharmaceuticals and genetic testing.

Modern biotechnology and genome knowledge has technically made contributions to the human health and disabilities such as;

Enzyme replacement therapy - This therapy involves producing an enzyme and administering it to the individual in the form of medicine. The enzyme takes over the function of a similar enzyme that the individuals own cells are incapable of producing it in the right quantity, due to genetic defect.

Stem cell therapy - This therapy utilizes stem cells. The stem cells are special cells that have unique properties that allow them to grow into a range of different type of tissues. The stem cell therapy utilizes them in order to supplement or replace particular tissue in an individual having a genetic condition or health issue.

Xeno-transplantation of cells from animals to human beings - This therapy involves acquiring the tissue from other species of animal and transplanting it to an individual, in order to supplement or relace specific tissue that is affected by a genetic condition. This therapy could also be utilized for various other purposes such as skin grafts or in replacement of heart valve.

Cloning of cells – This assists with diagnosis or in improving the efficiency of other treatments .This involves acquiring cells and utilizing laboratory techniques to grow more of such kind in numbers, so that it provides a good sample in order to study and carry out diagnosis.

Targeted drug therapies - This therapy utilizes the accurate knowledge of the function of a gene or its protein or enzyme product, to create a drug that is specific in action only on that particular protein or enzyme so that it makes up for its deficiency, absence or excess.

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