Biotechnology – Specialisations and Career Prospects

The past few decades have witnessed a swift rise in the number of plant and animal biotechnologists using the techniques of cell, tissue, organ culture for plant and animal improvement. The discovery of restriction enzymes which led to the development
of a variety of gene manipulations has revolutionized Biological Sciences in the 21st century.

Biotechnology is no longer seen as an innovative academic activity, but rather an intense industrial and commercial activity. Crossing 18,000 crore bench mark the Indian Biotechnology industry is growing very strong with almost 20 percent annual growth rate. India has already emerged as a World leader in vaccine production, biopharmaceuticals, industrial enzymes, hybrid seeds production, and micropropogation commercialization The development of biotechnology lead to an enhanced use of natural plant-based drugs in pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, functional foods as also cosmaceuticals in the global market. Modern biotechnology includes Genomics and bio-informatics, Agriculture and Plant biotechnology, Molecular medicine, Environment and biodiversity and bio-fuel and bio-instrumentation.

Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology:

The introduction of recombinant DNA technology enabled large scale production of human insulin in microbes at a cost that was considerably lower than that for isolation. In 2000, one out of the top ten drugs was a biologic. In 2008, 4 out of top ten drugs
were biologics and the number is expected to increase.

Engineered enzymes produced by genetic engineering and engineered microbes produced by using synthetic biology have the potential to replace conventional synthetic methods for production of drugs that are currently in use.

Industrial Biotechnology:

Recombinant DNA technology and synthetic biology have the potential to replace current industrial processes for the production of a wide variety of chemicals and fuels. Furthermore, genetically engineered microbes have the potential to convert toxic industrial effluents into useful products.

Agricultural Biotechnology:

The introduction of genetics and modern agricultural methodology was the driving force for the green revolution that enabled India to achieve self sufficiency in food. Strains of cotton that are resistant to pests have been produced by using genetic engineering.
Biotechnology can be used to produce strains of food crops with higher yield, ease of storage and processing, greater resistance to pests, and with ability to withstand drought and salinity.

Bioelectronics:

The rapid growth of the electronics industry has been made possible by rapid improvement of the underlying technology that enabled the number of transistors per square centimeter to double every year (Moore's law). The physical limits to the density of transistors per square centimeter may be overcome by the introduction of self assembled 3d biomolecular electronics.

Summary:

Biotechnology has the potential to contribute to and improve all fields of medicine, agriculture and engineering. The are many opportunities for entrepreneurs in the fields of biomedicine, biomaterials, biofuels, agriculture, biomechanics and bioelectronics.

Low cost, high quality FDA-approved products, contract manufacturing, and clinical trial services are being offered by the Indian industry, to the global markets. The biotech market is anticipated to accelerate in near future in view of high demand for vaccines, biopesticides, biofertilizers ,biodiesel both in Indian and Global Markets.

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