Humble Beginnings: The Origin Story of Modern Biotechnology

The history of modern biotechnology began around four decades ago with the invention of genetic engineering. Genentech, one of the fundamental companies in this field, set many trends for modern biotech companies today.

Biotechnology doesn’t necessarily involve labs. In fact, humans have been using forms of biotechnology for millennia, for example, using fermentation to brew alcoholic drinks.

However, modern biotechnology involving genetic engineering and cell manipulation, has been with us for roughly four decades. It was kickstarted in 1973, when scientists first genetically engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to introduce a foreign gene that made them resistant to an antibiotic.

To achieve this, the researchers employed a process called recombination, which consists of using proteins called restriction enzymes to cut bacterial DNA. The enzymes left uneven cuts on the DNA chain where foreign DNA could be inserted. The bacteria would then start using the new genetic information as if it were its own.

This new technology had the potential to revolutionize the way that we produce biological molecules. Instead of inefficient traditional methods such as extracting them from plants and animals, you could cheaply mass produce your desired molecule in fermentation vats of microbes.  

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However, to get the revolution going, the technology needed to reach the market.

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Published on Wed, 23 Dec 2020 11:25:44 +0000 and brought to you by Apptigent PowerTools