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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Origin and development of biotechnology

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The pioneering achievement in the field of Bio- technology was the production of greater genetic varieties of plants and animals through the techniques of Hybridization in 5000BC. It was through hybridization that present day High Yielding Varieties of plants and animals were evolved. This technique is being continuously used in improved forms in our programmes concerned with food production. Norman E. Borlaug, the American Agriculturist, received the Nobel Prize for the year 1970 for his important contribution of increasing the world food supply through different techniques like hybridization, Selective Breeding and Gene Transfer. Hybridization is the technology or process of crossing individuals of opposite sex of different species so as to produce off springs of combined character.

 The Indian Scientist Dr. M.S.Swaminathan (1967) initiated and developed technologies for increasing food production in India. Dr.Swaminathan is now being called as the Father of Economic Ecology.

In 1960, Werner Arber discovered specific enzymes called as Restriction Enzyme in bacteria. These enzymes can cut the DNA strand of an organism at a precise point. Further, in 1973, Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer became successful in removing a specific gene from a bacterium and inserting it into another bacterium by the application of the restriction enzyme. This discovery led to the development of the Recombinant DNA Technology which is commonly called as Genetic Engineering.

Image : Werner Arber
(Biozentrum News)

Another major achievement in the field of bio- technological development was the manipulation of bacteria to produce Human Protein (1977). Afterwards, the American Molecular Biologist Lydia Villa- Komaroff developed basic bio- technology for the production of Rat Insulin with the help of genetically engineered bacteria. By using genetically engineered bacteria, scientists became successful in producing Human Insulin in 1978 and within a period of 5 years the Human Insulin became the first biopharmaceutical product in the market to control Diabetes Mellitus.

Key Words : biotechnology, restriction enzyme, recombinant DNA technology, human insulin

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