The European Biotech Week 2023 (European Biotech Week #EBW2023) with various events in the different European countries. The European Biotechnology Week aims to celebrate the biotechnology sector, an innovative and vibrant sector, launched by the discovery of the DNA molecule in 1953.The first European Biotechnology Week in 2013 marked the 60th anniversary of this pivotal moment in history.
This annual event brings together scientists, companies, academics, students, policy makers and other biotechnology stakeholders, both physically and online. European Biotechnology Week serves as a platform to celebrate remarkable advances in biotechnology, address challenges relevant to society and industry and promote synergies for better collaboration.
It owes its continued success to the active participation of many organisations, companies and individuals across Europe. Schools, universities, museums, companies, institutions, associations and organisations are invited to organise events during the Week, providing a unique opportunity to showcase their work, expertise and contributions to the field of biotechnology.
What is biotechnology?
Biotechnology is a branch of biology that uses technology to manipulate and modify living organisms in order to improve their quality of life. Genetic engineering is one of the branches of biotechnology that focuses on the manipulation of the genetic material of organisms, in order to improve their characteristics.
In recent years, biotechnology has advanced significantly in the field of genetic engineering, leading to the creation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with important characteristics for industry, agriculture and medicine.
Genetic engineering has enabled the creation of disease-resistant plants and animals, the production of better quality food, and the creation of more effective drugs to treat diseases.
In this last chapter, we can talk about, for example, the development of recombinant proteins that are used in the production of drugs to treat diseases such as diabetes and cancer. In addition, gene therapies using genetic engineering have been developed to treat genetic diseases such as muscular dystrophy and Huntington’s disease; These gene therapies have the potential to cure previously incurable diseases.
One of the most important advances in genetic engineering in recent years has been the development of the gene-editing technique CRISPR-Cas9. This technique uses a protein called Cas9 to cut the DNA at a specific location and then replace it with a new segment of DNA. It has the potential to cure genetic diseases, such as Huntington’s disease and cystic fibrosis, by allowing scientists to correct the genetic errors that cause these diseases. In addition, CRISPR-Cas9 could be used in agriculture to create plants and animals with specific traits, such as increased disease resistance and food production.
Biotechnology has an impact on many sectors
The breakthroughs mentioned above are just a few small examples, but the reality is that biotechnology has an impact on many other areas of new lives. For example:
– Food processing. Products such as bread, yoghurt or cheese have been made for millennia with the help of different micro-organisms. Today, we continue to use such methods, but on a larger scale and with greater efficiency, proving how useful biotechnology is in our lives.
– Vaccines. Originally derived from animal samples, most are now produced synthetically for injection. Trials are now underway to make edible vaccines that, when ingested, release the agents that protect against certain diseases. In addition to avoiding needlesticks, these vaccines can have other advantages, such as a lower price and easier transportation and storage, as they do not require refrigeration.
– Environmentally friendly materials. Many of the products we use every day are made from non-renewable resources and are highly polluting. To solve this problem, environmentally friendly materials are being developed, which are also made from renewable resources, such as plastics obtained from plant fibres. The textile industry uses enzymes in several of its processes, which makes the by-products obtained from them more environmentally friendly, and their waste can be reused.
– Water treatment. It is a fact that entire bodies of water around the world are polluted every day. In order to solve this problem, processes such as bioremediation have been developed, which consists of planting specific micro-organisms in water bodies and defined areas. The cultures of micro-organisms feed on and dispose of the waste that pollutes the water, and gradually clean up the area where they are found. In Europe, several companies have already undertaken this process to rescue the River Thames and the River Seine, with very favourable results that have given a new lease of life to these iconic rivers.
– Genetically modified crops. Some people have a misconception about GM foods, believing them to be “artificial” or negative in some way. The word refers to the fact that their genetic make-up has been modified, which is a process that humans have been carrying out since the invention of agriculture, where they selected the best fruits and vegetables for further cultivation, in a process of artificial selection that continues to this day.
Biotechnology makes possible crops such as golden rice, a vitamin A fortified grain that helps many food-starved populations by helping to combat malnutrition.
The advances in biotechnology are undeniable, especially in this century, and the future is highly and pleasantly promising. We, at OLIGOFASTX, not only live it every day, but we will always remain at the forefront.
Will you join us?