Biotechnology is the use of living organisms and systems to make or develop products. Depending on the applications, it can overlap with many other scientific fields such as pharmaceuticals, genomics, immunology, diagnostic testing, agriculture, and regenerative medicine.
“Biotechnology has the capacity to meet our world’s rapidly growing demand for healthcare, energy, and food. And in the process of achieving those goals, it creates more job opportunities and increases productivity,” says Kevin Mulleady.
Kevin Mulleady Explains How Biotechnology Can Make Development and Manufacturing of Medicines and Vaccines Faster and More Precise
“The efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics in the treatment and prevention of diseases is well documented,” says Kevin. “Biotechnology is a crucial component in the advancement of these fields. It offers scientists the ability to make more complex vaccines and medicines, opening up the possibility of treating and preventing a wider group of diseases.”
The leading edge of biotechnology in this realm focuses on producing medicines and vaccines hyper-targeted to eliminate a certain virus or malady. Biopharmaceutical technologies include targeted immunotherapies to restore or strengthen the ability of your immune system to fight diseases off by selecting and editing specific cells, and messenger medications meant to stimulate your body’s natural ability to create therapeutic proteins.
“It sounds like science-fiction,” says Kevin Mulleady. “But these are the kinds of technologies we’re working on right now. Our purpose is to use biotechnology to improve long-term health outcomes for all.”
Kevin Mulleady Discusses How Genome Sequencing Can Advance Healthcare
“It took roughly $2.7 billion and nearly 15 years to sequence the first human genome,” says Mulleady. “Today it costs less than $1,000 and it can be completed in about one day.”
There are roughly 3 billion base pairs – the building blocks of your genome – that can come together in any combination of ways. This is what creates differences between us as humans – hair color, eye color, hair texture, voice pitch, finger length, etc. In most cases, these differences don’t cause problems. But sometimes a difference in the genome can mean you have a susceptibility to a certain disease or even manifest into a disease within you.
“The future of the medical world is personalized medicine,” says Kevin Mulleady. “As it becomes cheaper and faster and we grasp a better understanding of the inner workings of the human genome, it is one of the goals of biopharmaceuticals to be able to offer a completely customizable diagnosis and treatment plan. Medicine formulated to interact with your individual body chemistry, detection of cancerous cells before they attach and grow – these are the possibilities and applications of the future.”
Biotechnology also has the potential to create platforms for the quick identification of biological threats, the development of possible remedies, and the global-scale manufacturing of those cures. The combined use of information technology and nanotechnology is developing accurate, rapid, personalized – but still cost-efficient – diagnostics systems that would help us battle another global pandemic.
Kevin Mulleady Discusses the Use of Regenerative Medicine
“Imagine having an amputation, but instead of having to adjust your vision of your future and learn to function again, you just have to wait a few days while a new bio-compatible limb is created for you,” says Kevin Mulleady. “Imagine a population where aging is slowed to give people 10, 15, 30 extra years to enjoy their lives. That’s the promise that biotechnology and regenerative medicine hold.”
Scientists believe that targeting stem cells – specifically induced pluripotent stem cells – may allow us to grow tissue and organs in a lab and implant them safely when your body cannot heal itself for whatever reason. “We’re already able to engineer tissue using a variety of biomaterials,” says Kevin Mulleady. “I’m excited for the future.”