Biotechnology in Pharmaceutical Industry

Biotechnology in Pharmaceutical Industry

Not too long ago, rare diseases like cancer were marked untreatable. Well, it turns out that the incorporation of biotechnology in the pharmaceutical industry has now enhanced the healthcare sector.

Biotechnology benefits the pharmaceutical sector by elevating research with more advanced tools. It also enriched the formulation of a wide variety of new vaccines. Moreover, personalized medicines are now being developed thanks to biotechnology. These medicines are customized for treating patients based on information about their own genes.

Biotechnological applications completely reformed the pharmaceutical industry in terms of drug development. This is because living organisms like yeast, bacteria, and other living tissues are harnessed to create these new medications. Combining them together formed a new sector called biopharmaceuticals.

Stay tuned as we will be discussing the innovations of the biopharmaceutical industry!

Applications of Biotechnology in the Pharmaceutical Industry

From the development of quick-relief drugs to vaccines used for fighting off the COVID-19 outbreak - biotechnology single-handedly improved the pharmaceutical industry. Its applications include:

Gene Therapy

Gene therapy has to be the most promising application of biopharmaceuticals. This provides the most genuine answers to any genetic condition. It contributes to therapeutic remedies by modifying the overall genetic getup of a patient.

But first, gene testing is carried out. This clinical test helps to identify any kind of genetic abnormalities. It aids in the early diagnosis of any emerging diseases by detecting minute changes in genes and chromosomes.

After that, gene therapy provides the solution for that disease. It cures disease by following either one of these three functions. A disease is suppressed by deactivating a faulty gene. Or replaces a faulty gene with a healthy one. Or maybe inject a customized gene into the body using gene editing techniques.

A modified gene introduced to the body is usually carried using vectors. The vectors can be viruses, bacteria, and plasmids. These vectors are genetically engineered to carry therapeutic genes into the body in order to prevent any infectious diseases from occurring.

Human genes can also be directly modified to restore mutated genes.

Again infected genes can be taken out and genetically edited. Later they are transferred back to the body.

This is how gene therapy treats cancer and other genetic conditions.

Recombinant Insulin

Recombinant DNA technology for producing insulin is probably the very first biopharmaceutical implementation. Here DNA is cut off at specific sites for the formation of genes with new functionalities.

This technology is usually implemented on diabetic patients who have little to no insulin in their bodies. So recombinant DNA cuts down on sugar accumulation in their bloodstream. In this way, their blood glucose level will reduce to normal.

Previously the pharmaceutical industry manipulated porcine insulin for diabetic patients. However, animal insulin production is usually pretty low and sometimes it didn't even match the patient's body. That's why recombinant insulin elevated the process with the incorporation of biotechnology.

Human genes that are responsible for the production of insulin are extracted using restriction enzymes. These can be called natural scissors.

Then the snipped-off gene is isolated to transfer it inside a genetically edited plasmid. The plasmids are also kept with bacterial cells that eventually take up the plasmid containing the gene.

After that, they are allowed to grow and replicate. Finally, synthetic insulin that is identical to human insulin is produced.

This formulation is usually injected by the patient before meals i.e. whenever the blood glucose level needs to be tamed.

Thus recombinant insulin imitates natural insulin.


Biotechnology stimulated pharmaceutical vaccine production. Vaccines strengthen your immune system to fight off infectious diseases. It is usually an emulsion made of weakened disease-causing organisms.

Vaccines were the saviors during the coronavirus outbreak. Some cardiovascular diseases as well as other conditions like Hepatitis B can be treated using vaccines.

Recombinant sub-unit vaccines use the concept of recombinant DNA technology. It contains attenuated units of pathogens that are protected by the vaccine. DNA of the subunits is inserted into yeast cells that are multiplied and grown. After that, it is mixed into the form of a vaccine along with saline solutions.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) vaccines use the DNA from an already disease-stimulating pathogen. The virus instructs the nucleic acid vaccine to produce specific proteins, which are foreign to our immune system. However, once it enters the host cells, the cell triggers a response as it thinks of it as its own.

Finally, reverse vaccinology utilizes the overall expressed genomic sequences and proteins of a pathogen to find the most fruitful candidate. This can cause unique antigens to be discovered which can in turn improve already existing vaccines.

In this way, remedies for a lot of severe diseases can be invented.

DNA Fingerprinting

DNA fingering elevated by biotechnology is applied in pharmaceutical research. It is maneuvered to derive a person's identity based on their unique DNA. This technology is mainly used during criminal investigations, post-mortems, and most commonly, paternity testing. So two DNA fingerprints need to be matched to find their relationship with one another.

Firstly, a sample of cells needs to be extracted from your body. The most commonly used sample is blood. However, mouth swabs, saliva, hair roots, and other bodily fluids work as well. The sample is treated with chemicals to get the DNA. The DNA is then dissolved in a water solution.

After that, the DNA is snipped into a handful of base pairs which are later replicated for research purposes.

The DNA strips are mixed with a gel and an electric current is passed over it to differentiate between the smaller and larger segments.

The short segments are tested for better results. Plus the sample is dyed to observe better by shining laser and UV light on them.

It will then form a pattern that is unique for blood relations. So the pattern is compared to another person's sample's pattern in order to find a match.

So people can find their family members!


Pharmacogenomics in the form of "the human genome project" opened new windows for the whole pharmaceutical industry. It is the study of how an individual's gene responds to different medications. This enhances the therapeutic efficacy of a drug.

Usually, drugs are accessible in the form that it treats a specific disease but not based on their individual genetic makeup. It is usually common to everyone and only differentiates in the form of their dose limits.

Most of the time these drugs become ineffective to a patient, doing basically nothing to treat their diseases. At other times, they trigger some underlying effects like certain drugs can flare up allergies. Again, there is always a risk of getting overdosed.

That's why pharmaceutical researchers use pharmacogenomics to study the genetic makeup of a person in order to analyze whether or not a drug will suit them. Hence the medications can be customized to give patients their most appropriate fit.

These medicines not only cure their diseases properly but also make them work efficiently. It means that visible results can be felt in a couple of days. This technology is used to cure unique conditions like cancer, depression, and asthma.

Nowadays doctors also prescribe their patients with personalized drugs thanks to biopharmaceuticals.

Molecular Diagnosis

Molecular diagnosis is a top-tier intricate biopharmaceutical application. It requires a lot of research to pinpoint a disease by observing its overall molecules.

Often times the concentration of the pathogen along with its ability to spread the disease intensifies during the time of its diagnosis. So early diagnosis is important to achieve a more effective treatment.

Molecular diagnosis in the form of ELISA is usually carried out. This test involves a screening tool to analyze antibodies responsible for causing certain diseases in the bloodstream. ELISA can be used to detect Lyme disease, chicken pox, zika virus, etc.

Antigens are first applied to the tiny boxes of the ELISA plate by passive absorption and later incubated. To get rid of the antigens that were not absorbed, it is then rinsed with PBS. An enzyme conjugated with a secondary antibody is also applied and observed. Finally, a chromophore substrate detects the enzyme along with the antigen present.

ELISA test in terms of molecular diagnosis targets only the molecule of interest and thus reduces the chance of errors.

Therefore, molecular diagnosis aids in the early detection of a lot of severe diseases.

Bottom Line

Biotechnology uplifted the pharmaceutical industry as well as invented many pathways for the advanced treatment of a particular disease. We are pretty sure you got to know a lot about the different implementations of biotechnology in pharmaceuticals.

In short, biotechnology is the art of pharmaceutical development. It supplies us with innovative drugs and technologies to identify and cure all of our diseases despite being major or minor.

Firstly, gene therapy solves our genetic conditions by reconstructing the genetic configuration. Recombinant insulin imitates natural insulin for taming the blood sugar level in diabetic patients. For enhancing our immune system vaccines are there.

Again, DNA fingerprinting helps to identify blood relations. Personalized drugs are made possible thanks to pharmacogenomics. Finally, molecular diagnosis aids in early diagnosis.

This is how applications of biotechnology in the pharmaceutical industry revolutionized the healthcare sector.


Image Credits: Freepik

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