Applications of Biotechnology: History and Prospects
The vast majority of the early societal benefit and commercial success in biotechnology arose from expressing single genes in bacteria and mammalian cells, to manufacture pharmaceuticals. This approach, made possible by the universality of genetic information flow mechanisms among all organisms, has grown into a biopharmaceutical industry with sales approaching $80 billion per year, and has brought forth a large number of the most promising new pharmaceuticals.
More recently, advances in genomics, systems biology and regenerative medicine have produced a broad range of new scientific and medical advances. These advances rely upon a deeper understanding and control of biology than the original 1-gene-biopharmaceuticals and are at earlier stages of development, but promise eventually to bring equal benefits to society.
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