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A definition of Biotechnology

Biotechnology consists of a broad set of technologies and a plausible definition has been developed by the OECD, for statistical analyses which consists of two parts:

  1. single definition providing a general description of what biotechnology is about:

"The application of science and technology to living organisms, as well as parts, products and models thereof,
to alter living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods and services."

  1. A (indicative, not exhaustive) list of biotechnologies as an interpretative guideline to the single definition:
  • DNA/RNA :
    Genomics, pharmacogenomics, gene probes, genetic engineering, DNA/RNA sequencing/synthesis/amplification, gene expression profiling, and use of antisense technology.
  • Proteins and other molecules :
    Sequencing/synthesis/engineering of proteins and peptides (including large molecule hormones); improved delivery methods for large molecule drugs; proteomics, protein isolation and purification, signaling, identification of cell receptors.
  • Cell and tissue culture and engineering :
    Cell/tissue culture, tissue engineering (including tissue scaffolds and biomedical engineering), cellular fusion, vaccine/immune stimulants, embryo manipulation.
  • Process biotechnology techniques :
    Fermentation using bioreactors, bioprocessing, bioleaching, biopulping, biobleaching, biodesulphurisation, bioremediation, biofiltration and phytoremediation.
  • Gene and RNA vectors :
    Gene therapy, viral vectors.
  • Bioinformatics :
    Construction of databases on genomes, protein sequences; modelling complex biological processes, including systems biology.
  • Nanobiotechnology :
    Applies the tools and processes of nano/microfabrication to build devices for studying biosystems and applications in drug delivery, diagnostics etc.

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