A Career in Medical Biotechnology
Medical biotechnology is a combination of different science-oriented subjects, namely Cell Biology, Genetics, Nanotechnology, Bioinformatics, etc., to carry out advancements in the field of medicine. It makes use of recombinant DNA technology in different therapeutic forms.
In medical biotechnology, one learns how diseases affect the human body at the cellular level. Its aim is prevention and treatment of the disorders, thereby increasing the lifespan of an individual; for example- improving the accessibility for people with disabilities. They use living cells as well as cell materials in their research and develop pharmaceutical and diagnostic products, which will be useful for the treatment and prevention of diseases – thus offering a lot of scope for a Career in Medical Biotechnology.
The most significant advantage of using this technique is that it can overcome the problems of graft rejection. One of the typical examples is the production of insulin. During the initial days, insulin was made from the pancreas of pigs and cattle, which lead to immunological reactions. Still, Medical Biotechnology solved this problem by producing insulin from E.coli by genetic engineering.
Medical biotechnology is also called Red biotechnology because of its application in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals like vaccines, enzymes, antibiotics, etc.; as well as for molecular diagnostic purposes. These applications offer a lot of careers in Medical Biotechnology.
Various applications of medical biotechnology include:
- Gene therapy
- Stem cells
- Tissue engineering
- Monoclonal antibodies
- Genome sequencing
One of the new and growing fields is pharmacology in combination with biotechnology. It includes the principles of biotechnology for the development of drugs. A vast number of therapeutic drugs that come in the market are bio formulations like nucleic acid products, antibodies, and vaccines. These bio formulations are developed in multiple steps i.e. it includes considering the principles related to health and disease, the molecular mechanism conducted in relation to function of biomolecules, their synthesis, and purification, determining the shelf life of the product, their stability, immunogenicity and toxicity, drug delivery systems, clinical trials as well as patenting.
It involves the use of DNA as a pharmaceutical agent to treat a particular disease. Mainly it involves replacing a mutated gene with a therapeutic gene. Gene therapy has made significant advances over the past two decades. Within a short duration, it has transformed from a theoretical stage to a technological phase as well as clinical trials against a variety of deadly diseases. The most notable advancement included gene therapy for many genetic disorders like Severe combined Immunodeficiency, Chronic granulomatous disorder, Hemophilia, Cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Influenza, HIV, and many more acquired diseases. For a Career in Medical Biotechnology – thorough knowledge of this filed is a must.
A stem cell is a cell that has the potential to develop into any cell type in the human body. Usually, stem cells are introduced into the damaged areas of the body where, under the right conditions, it will be replacing the damaged area. More often, these stem cells are grown in the lab, first to ensure the proper condition, and after that, it is inserted into the sick person.
The main area where the stem cells have proven their worth is in bone marrow transplants, replacing damaged heart tissue after a heart attack and replacing damaged nerve tissue for those having spinal cord injury. Stem cells are currently being used for the treatment of many diseases right from Crohn’s disease to baldness. The richest source of stem cells is from the embryo itself. Stem cell research is a major source of Careers in Medical Biotechnology
It involves the creation of human tissues outside the body for later use. Tissue engineers so far have created bone marrow, artificial skin, and cartilage. Currently, people are working on creating artificial liver, bladder, and pancreas.
They are named so because they are clones of an individual parent cell. And basically, antibodies are the proteins that attack invading pathogens. Its a vital tool for finding small molecules in biological samples.
Steps involved in making these:
- Human antibody-producing genes are inserted into the mouse
- The mouse is infected, making it produce antibody-producing cells, i.e. B -cells.
- These cells are removed from the mouse and fused with a tumor cell.
- Now we have a tumor cell consistently producing antibodies, and many cells like it.
The advantage of this monoclonal antibody is that they are trained to target markers that show up cancer features and keeps on destroying them.
There are many protein therapeutics developed so far which includes insulin for diabetes, somatotropin and somatostatin for growth disorders, erythropoietin for anaemia, tumor necrosis factor for cancers, interferons for controlling viral infections, lymphokines like Interleukin-2 which has the ability to restore the immune system to fight against cancer, certain infections and some diseases etc.
It is one of the current areas of research wherein mass production of human proteins, vaccines, etc. are made by genetically modifying bacteria and viruses. This leads to the production in large quantities of the desired product within a short period of time with relatively less expenditure. One of the significant applications of Bioprocessing is insulin, the human protein which is responsible for reducing the blood sugar level after intake of food. They did this by placing the human gene for insulin in bacteria, cultured, and allowed to produce insulin, which is collected, purified, and sold to diabetes worldwide. For a Career in Medical Biotechnology – lot of scopes exist in the bioprocessing field.
Genome Sequencing :
One of the future approaches of medical biotechnology is in genome sequencing. Years back, a research team had mapped the entire DNA sequence of human chromosome 22. Thereafter technology has become so advanced that the number of genomes was either wholly or partially sequenced. In fact, doctors can identify whether a particular was inherited from one generation to the other.
A career in Medical Biotechnology: Scope
There are various career scopes available for students who are pursuing or wish to pursue their future in Medical Biotechnology:
- One can become an Assistant Professor at any University.
- For doing research /Ph.D.
In either of the cases, one must clear CSIR NET Exam, which provides fellowship to those opting for Ph.D. as well as those who are looking for Assistant Professor jobs in Universities.
- One can find jobs in pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, diagnostic centers because the demand for people who can handle equipment and with excellent technical knowledge is more in these sectors. Nowadays, standard medicine has failed to cure many of the dreadful diseases like cancer, organ transplantation, neural disorders, etc. so hospitals are recruiting research teams to produce medicine that is specific for microbes so that it can provide better opportunities in saving the life of a person.
- One can make a Career in Medical Biotechnology by working in Research and development in laboratories.
- Since the medical biotechnology works on areas like mycology, immunohematology, immunology, clinical chemistry, parasitology, hematology, urinalysis, bacteriology, etc. so one can also go for clinical trials
- Certain manufacturing sectors of biotechnology, for the production of vaccines, production of monoclonal antibodies, fermentation, manufacture of recombinant DNA based products, etc.
Basically scope depends on the will, knowledge, and skill of the individual.
According to the reports of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the year 2026 Medical Biotechnology is expected to rise more, giving a huge number of job openings. Thus managers in the health and medical services will have a good pay scale.
Medical biotechnology is one of the rarest disciplines, there is a lack of trained workforce. Thus in the upcoming years, there will be an urge for the requirement of well trained and skilled medical and biotech freshers. If the growth rate progresses, then there will be a day when medical biotechnology will become a pillar in the field of health science.
Editors Notes: Career in Medical Biotechnology, Medical Biotech Career, Medical Biotechnology Career, What is Medical Biotechnology?
Co-Authored By: Namitha Thampi