Open Questions: General Biotechnology
See also: Molecular biology and genetics --
The immune system --
Protein chemistry and biology --
RNA biology -
Drug delivery -
Telomeres and telomerase
Modifying gene expression
The Polymerase Chain Reaction
- Good article for a general audience by Tabitha M. Powledge.
Describes how PCR works and what it's used for. Contains a list
of suggested reading.
- Good survey of different types of antiviral agents, by Jack
Polymerase Chain Reaction
- Brief May 1998 story from Scientific American explaining
polymerase chain reactions.
- Very short overview of the discovery of RNAi.
GenLink Multimedia Telomere Resource
- Articles and links to information and databases related
The Prospects for Antisense Therapy
- Good 1999 survey article by Alan M. Gewirtz.
- Short summary from
Molecular Genetics by Ulrich Melcher.
Antisense Makes Sense
- Very brief July 2001 Article in
Oligonucleotide-based strategies to reduce gene expression
- 2001 technical paper by John M. Dagle and Daniel L. Weeks, in
Making Sense of Antisense
- August 1998 news article in The Scientist about
the development of antisense therapies.
RNA Interference and Gene Silencing: History and Overview
- General information on RNA interference and
post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS), provided by
The RNA Interference Resource
- A resource page with a number of links to information about
RNAi, provided by
A Drug to Call One's Own
- August 2005 Scientific American In Focus article
about using personal genomic data to determine the probable
efficacy and safety of particular drugs.
Supercharging Protein Manufacture
- January 2004 Scientific American story about better ways
to manuafacture monoclonal antibodies.
Building Better Proteins
The Scientist, June 2010
- Antibodies are big business. And emerging technologies
to optimize their therapeutic potential may make them even bigger.
W. Wayt Gibbs
Scientific American, August 2005
- Sugar Added
W. Wayt Gibbs
Scientific American, July 2003
- Nanobiotech Makes the Diagnosis
Technology Review, May 2002, pp. 60-66
- A number of new tools are under development that use techniques
from nanotechnology to detect and measure biological molecules,
such as DNA and proteins, for a variety of medical diagnostic tasks.
- The Virtual Cell
Technology Review, April 2002, pp. 63-71
- A large research effort is getting underway to build computer
models of individual cells and cellular networks. Eventually
such models will encompass entire organisms. The effort will
eventually surpass the Human Genome Project in size, and should
be even more important for the understanding of fundamental
biology and development of more effective pharmaceuticals.
- Custom-Made Medications
Technology Review, December 2001, pp. 82-85
- An interview with Mark Levin, CEO of Millennium Pharmaceuticals,
provides some answers to how biotechnology will help provide
"personalized medicine" -- diagnostics and drugs better suited
for individual needs.
Vessels of Death or Life
Rakesh K. Jain; Peter F. Carmeliet
Scientific American, December 2001, pp. 38-45
- Angiogenesis is the process of forming blood vessels.
Stimulation of angiogenesis is an important technique for treating
heart disease. Inhibition of angiogenesis may be even more important
in treating many types of cancer and other disease.
Beyond Chicken Soup
William A. Haseltine
Scientific American, November 2001, pp. 56-63
- The life cycle of a virus is complex, comprising a number of
stages. There are opportunities to develop agents
which will interfer with viral reproduction at each stage. The
ability to easily sequence the genetic material of virues has been
a great help in this effort.
- Speeding Drug Discovery
Technology Review, October 2001, pp. 62-69
- The Human Genome Project and related efforts have created a
massive amount of raw information on possible drug targets. But
the costs of developing a successful drug candidate to the status
of an approved drug are so large that it is imperative that
automated, industrial techniques be used to identify the best
candidates as early as possible.
Magic Bullets Fly Again
Scientific American, October 2001, pp. 34-41
- Monoclonal antibodies use natural components of the immune
system to selectively target specific disease-related antigens.
They have long been regarded as an efficient means of delivering
therapeutics but have been slow to fulfill their promise. This
may finally be changing, with 10 monoclonal antibodies now
approved for use, and more on the way.
- Cybernetic Cells
W. Wayt Gibbs
Scientific American, August 2001, pp. 52-57
- Computer models are now being constructed to simulate the
biochemistry of cells. Such "in silico" experiments, together
with rapidly accumulating genomic and proteomic data, should
eventually make it possible to discover and evaluate potential
drugs much more efficiently.
- Medicine Gets Personal
Technology Review, January/February 2001, pp. 72-78
- Pharmacogenomics is the name given to the effort to tailor
pharmaceuticals to the unique genome of each individual. The objective
is to produce drugs that work optimally for a given person, while
avoiding predictable adverse side-effects.
- Biotech Speeds its Evolution
Technology Review, November-December 2000, pp. 84-90
- "Directed evolution" is an alternative to "rational drug design"
for developing proteins with specific pharmaceutical properties.
The basic idea is to systematically create variations of a gene,
insert the variants into the DNA of bacteria, test the resulting
proteins for desired properties, then iterate the process with
the genes that produced the best results.
- Winning combination
Robert F. Service
Technology Review, May-June 1998, pp. 34-41
- Combinatorial chemistry is the use of automated processes to
synthesize new chemical compounds and screen them for useful
properties. It's already used in drug R & D and may be applied
more generally in materials science.
- The New Genetic Medicines
Jack S. Cohen; Michael E. Hogan
Scientific American, December 1994, pp. 76-82
- A number of diseases result from harmful or inappropriate
behavior of certain proteins. Traditional drugs often act by
inhibiting the activity of such proteins. New drugs may be
possible that act by inhibiting the production of the proteins
Copyright © 2002 by Charles Daney, All Rights Reserved