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Modern biotechnology was born around four decades ago, which led to the invention of genetic engineering.
FREMONT, CA: Biotechnology does not always necessitate the use of laboratories. Humans have been employing biotechnology for millennia, for example, to manufacture alcoholic beverages via fermentation. Modern biotechnology, which involves genetic engineering and cell manipulation, has been around for nearly four decades. It all began in 1973 when scientists genetically modified Escherichia coli germs to insert a foreign gene that rendered them antibiotic-resistant.
The researchers used a technique known as recombination, which involves cutting bacterial DNA with proteins known as restriction enzymes. The enzymes cleave the DNA chain unevenly, allowing foreign DNA to be introduced. The bacteria would then begin to use the newly acquired genetic information as if it were their own.
This innovative technology had the potential to change the way biological molecules are made. Researchers could mass synthesize their target molecule in fermentation vats of bacteria instead of using inefficient, traditional methods like extracting it from plants and animals.
First publicly owned BioTech Firm
On April 7th, 1976, Genentech was started with no assets, equipment, or even a secretary. Despite its poor origins, the company created a human protein, somatostatin, as a proof-of-concept in 1977 using recombinant E. coli bacteria.
The business utilized this process to make the human hormone insulin two years later, which was a tremendous breakthrough. Animal versions of the hormone were previously harvested from cow and pig pancreases by major pharma Eli Lilly.
Following this accomplishment, Genentech became the first biotech business to go public, raising $35 million in an initial public offering (IPO) in 1980 (equal to roughly €100 million today). The company was subsequently acquired by the Swiss powerhouse Roche in 2009 after many years of bringing medications to market.
Genentech now employs nearly 15,000 people. With a huge development pipeline and numerous blockbuster pharmaceuticals under its belt, the business often interacts with other academic and industry organizations.
New trends for Modern Biotechnology
The corporation has played a vital role in establishing the legal framework for biotechnology, which had previously been limited to patenting substances found in nature. Genentech's battle in the United Kingdom to patent a recombinant form of a naturally occurring protein, which it lost in 1987, was particularly significant.
Biotechnology has made significant progress. CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, the human microbiome, gene therapy, immunotherapy, CAR-T cell therapy, and many other fields have exploded in popularity, in addition to recombinant technology. Although contemporary biotechnology originated in the United States, it swiftly gained popularity in Europe, where a robust biotech ecosystem has significantly impacted biotechnology's history.