On Planet of Drugs; Impact of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Kanwal Ashiq | 17-Aug-2017

On Planet of Drugs; Impact of Pharmaceutical BiotechnologyWe are living in an era of transformation and miracles happen each day.  Biotechnology is the combination of two words “technology and biology”. The domain of Biotechnology is very wide in which cells or cellular parts, biological pathways and organisms are used to develop new innovative technologies. Novel procedures, tools, and products are developing day by day, which are used in research, agriculture, industry, and the health care system.

Pharmaceutical Biotechnology is the application of biotechnology principles and procedures in the development of drugs. Pharmaceutical biotechnology is the quite innovative, dynamic and rapidly emerging field and driving a global alteration from illness to wellness. Since last few years, pharmaceutical biotechnology has played a key role in drug research and development, and innovatory changes have been happening in health care setups, especially in the field of oncology, infectious diseases, and metabolic disorders.

Due to the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, a groundbreaking transformation has occurred in the field of drug discovery. Various biotechnology techniques (i.e. cell culture, genetic modeling, and immunochemistry) use in drug discovery and have also paved the way to explore new avenues of drug discovery that are beneficial to the mankind. 

The aim of using these techniques is to search for the potential chemical candidates (i.e. proteins, peptides, genes) which have therapeutic activity. In the current market majority of therapeutic drugs are bio-formulations (i.e. proteins, nucleic acids, vaccines, antibodies e.t.c.).

By the help of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology various therapeutic products (Biotech Drugs) are produced, for example:


Insulin is used for the management of diabetes. Previously, insulin was obtained from procaine and bovine sources and causes immunological reactions due to change in number and sequence of amino acids.

Now insulin is produced by the help of “Recombinant Biotechnology Technique”, in large quantities and causes no immunological reactions (as the number and sequence of amino acids remain same).

Example(s) i.e. Humulin and Novolin


Glucagon is used for the management of hypoglycemia. By the help of biotechnology, glucagon is also produced and benefit of using this that there is no chance of spongiform encephalopathy as compared to the glucagon obtained from the bovine and procaine sources.

Example(s) i.e. GlucaGen

Human Growth Hormone

This hormone is produced by the anterior pituitary gland and responsible for controlling human metabolism and development. The lack of growth hormone may result in the growth retardation. Now Human Growth Hormone successfully produced with the help of biotechnology.  

Example(s) i.e. Somatrem

Follicle Stimulating Hormone

Follicle stimulating hormone also produced by the help of biotechnology and its effects include increases the ovarian follicular growth and spermatogenesis.

Example(s) i.e. Follitropin Alpha (Gonal-F), Follitropin beta (Follistim)


Cytokines i.e. hematopoietic growth factors (various interleukins) are being manufactured by the biotechnology techniques and clinically useful in the treatment of various diseases, for example erythropoietin is used for the treatment of anemia.

Example(s) i.e. Epoetin alfa  Epogen


Interferons are used for the treatment of cancers and viral infections. The alpha, beta and gamma interferons are successfully synthesized with the help of biotechnology.

Example(s) i.e. Roferon A used in treatment of leukemia and Interferon Alfa-n1 used for the Hepatitis C treatment.


Biotechnological techniques are also used for the production of different vaccines.

Example(s) i.e. Recombivax and Energix B used in the treatment of Hepatitis B (HBV), LYMErix and COMVAX used against the Lyme disease and H.influanzae respectively.

Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are used in the treatment of various cancers and can be synthesized with the help of biotechnology.  

Example(s) i.e. Rituximab used for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Gemtuzuma used for myeloid leukemia treatment, Alemtuzumab use for chronic lymphocytic leukemia and Infliximab used for Crohn’s disease treatment.

Blood Clotting Factors & Anti-Coagulants

A variety of blood clotting factors and anticoagulants are manufactured by the aid of biotechnological procedures.

Example(s) i.e. Lepirudin used as an anticoagulant. Tissue plasminogen activator, Clotting factor IX and factor VIII used for the treatment of blood clotting disorders.

Gene therapy, tissue engineering, and personalized drug therapy have opened the new horizons in a medical field.

Investments in sustainable high technology such as biotechnology are of vital importance. Globally, the pharmaceutical companies have given the keen interest to expand the utilization of biotechnology. Today, biotechnologies are influencing pharmaceutical growth, as most major pharmaceutical companies look towards the biotechnology for their future financial progress.

This financial success has also created the multifarious issues related to cost of biopharmaceutical and patient access. The current challenges that biotech’s face includes considerably increasing drug development costs and controversial regulatory issues worldwide. In parallel to this, drug discovery and research will continue to evolve throughout the next decade to better meet the needs of patients and clinicians for such drugs.