Biotechnology Is the Wave of the Future
Every once in a while in human history, a concept so revolutionizing comes along that it is clear mankind will jump to the next level of its existence because of it.
Biotechnology is one of those concepts. Let’s take a look at this discipline and what it promises to offer in terms of advancement and betterment for this planet.
What Is Biotechnology?
This kind of technology is utilized in research and medicine. This discipline can include gene therapy, genetically modifying plants, and even the gene manipulation of bacteria. It may pave the way in the future for improved cancer treatments, disease-resistant fruit and vegetables, and much more.
The field of biotechnology is still relatively new, but it’s old enough at this point that we’ve gained real traction. And with the foothold we currently have, we’re poised for a great explosion of development that will come through biotechnology.
Because each scientist who takes a step further in this discipline is walking on the shoulders of the giants who have come before them in the industry, they are able to take past research and expand on it. That has taken a great deal of money in the past few decades, and these advancements wouldn’t have been possible without the funding that has come in the form of government grants, private donations, and also private industry. It amounts to billions of dollars each year.
When it comes to research and development, more money is spent by private industry than any other funding type, including donations, charitable organizations, and government funding. Without funding, the knowledge we gain does us no good. We need to use it to implement changes.
It’s money that allows us to take our advancements to the next level, create new therapies and medications, and find solutions to problems such as world hunger with disease-resistant crops.
But biotechnology also has the possibility to save mankind money as well as improve our overall lives. Preventing diseases before they become a problem or figuring out that you can avoid a certain treatment because it isn’t likely to work based on a person’s particular genes can save the medical system and the patient a lot of money.
As I mentioned, biotechnology isn’t new — it’s been in the works for decades. So why do so many scientists and doctors feel like we’re on the brink of explosive activity in that field now, as opposed to 10 or 20 years ago?
It’s because the building blocks are in place. For decades, we’ve been on a fact-finding mission, putting together as much useful information as possible. And because of us having the basic information, coupled with the technology to make advancements less cost prohibitive, we can build upon that information and take it to the next level.
Sequencing human genomes, for instance, is a prime example of this. The first time it was completed, it was enormously expensive, and with good reason. It’s a complex undertaking, with the human genome encompassing about 3.2 billion nucleotides and in the neighborhood of 23,500 genes.
But while it cost billions in 1995 when it was first done and took nearly 15 years to finish, it now costs less than $1,000 and only a few weeks for an analysis of all the information.
Why Would Someone Pay for That Information?
Any individual who wants to cough up the money can have it done, and learn more about any gene alterations they have, as well as predisposition to some sorts of disease.
This kind of information could be useful for a number of reasons, including treatment plans for certain types of diseases. By having that information already on record if someone gets sick, or having it within a matter of weeks, doctors could come up with a better treatment plan — one that’s more apt to work based on the gene alterations of that particular person.
While that information can be useful, it doesn’t matter if you have the information if it can’t benefit you. But there are more tools now than ever before to target disease. Things like gene therapy and medication delivery through nanoparticles make having that information better than ever. Suddenly, having that knowledge could be life-saving, because you might have the tools to treat that disease and specialize the medicine.
What the Future Holds
The sky is the limit with biotechnology, and we’re likely to see that in the near future. We’ve already seen amazing advancements and many in the field feel we’re just beginning. The beauty about these advances is that they can be applied to all kinds of problems, from multiple sclerosis to cancers to cardiac issues.
Even genetic diseases that have long been considered hopeless, like Huntington’s disease, are being looked at with new eyes. Trials are underway to fight the condition at its source, leading to new hope for sufferers who slowly watch their control over their minds and bodies slip away over a course of more than 10 years.
The genetic basis for Huntington’s disease was first pinpointed in 1993, and now today there are clinical trials checking out experimental treatments for the dreaded hereditary disease. Because of its rarity, Huntington’s disease is considered an orphan disease, showing that the biotechnology explosion is not only potentially useful for finding breakthroughs for the most common diseases. Its implications can be felt throughout science, in many disciplines, and it has far-reaching potential.
More disease breakthroughs and advancements that will help society and ease human suffering should be on the way because of this field. There has been a growing trend in tackling diseases. Whereas the goal was always finding cures for diseases, most of the time, all we’ve found are treatments. But building upon information that was gathered in the 1980s and 1990s, we’ve been able to find cures, not just treatments. Biotechnology has been responsible for this shift.
That’s where biotechnology really shines is its ability to change and better lives everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you live in a developing nation or developed one, biotechnology and its implications will be felt throughout the world and will alter the course of mankind and its path.