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Biotechnology in a broad sense includes the use of living systems and organisms, as well as their parts for the development or production of products.


Biotechnology is the use of technology to modify or manipulate living systems or parts of living systems for the generation of useful products, biological processing to treat disease or to acquire knowledge. Products manufactured or processed using biotechnology are found in agricultural, pharmaceutical, food, chemical, and biofuel industries. Biotechnology is also used in waste treatment.

Biotechnology fundamentals

Biotechnology is used to modify living systems or parts of living systems based on knowledge about essential parts or processes which allow living things to grow, reproduce, use resources and respond to their environment.

Biotechnology is based on genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, embryology and cell biology, as well as applied disciplines - chemical and information technology and robotics.


Biotechnology tools

Biotechnology tools have been developed in research areas such as molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, genetics, microbiology, cell biology and agriculture.

Nucleic acid sequencing Tools

Gene editing tools

Genome editing is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted, modified or replaced in the genome of a living organism. The following tools are often used in gene editing projects.

Biomaterials interact with biological systems. They can be natural or synthetic, alive or lifeless and are made of multiple components. Biomaterials are often used in medical applications.


Biomolecules, also called biological molecules, are molecules produced by cells of living organisms. DNA, RNA and enzymes are examples of biomolecules. The following are biomolecules with uses in pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics or textiles.

Mapping Projects

Mapping projects serve as reference manuals to living systems by showing the organization of components within living organisms. Mapping projects promote the sharing of biological information and more.

Therapeutics companies

The following companies are using biotechnology in disease research and in development and production of medicine or therapies for a range of injuries or illnesses.


Drug delivery system

A drug delivery system (DDS) is defined as a formulation or a device that enables a therapeutic substance to selectively reach its site of action, improves its efficacy and safety by controlling the rate of release and time in the body

Drug discovery platforms

Therapeutics targeting RNA splicing

Contract research companies

Bone repair and sports medicine

Plant-based manufacturing of therapeutics and vaccines

Live bacteria therapeutic delivery systems

Drug discovery in microbes

In vitro diagnostics (IVD) and molecular diagnostics companies

Biotechnology is used by IVD companies to develop tests that detect diseases in vitro, meaning outside the body, from human samples like blood, urine and tissue. Molecular diagnostics are a subset of tests within IVD which detect DNA and RNA in order to assess health. Examples are detection of disease-causing gene mutations or presence of viral DNA or RNA. Detection of proteins using antibodies is considered separate from molecular diagnostics but falls under IVD. In addition to molecular diagnostics and immunoassays, the IVD market also includes clinical chemistry, hematology analyzers and microbiology culture.

Diagnostics tools
  • Cas12a based DETECTR system to detect viruses
  • Cas12a based HOMES system to detect viruses and small nucleotide polymorphism sites in human DNA related to health and personal characteristics
  • CRISPR-on-a-chip for cancer diagnostics

Personalized health and disease risk testing

Genomic analysis for drug development and deployment

Juno Bio uses Microbiome analysis, Inoviv uses Proteomics-based biomarkers , and Inoviv uses RNA-based biomarkers

Imaging technology and bioanalytics

Biotechnology companies that provide research tools

The following companies that produce instruments, kits, reagents and computer software for basic and applied biological research.

Sustainable and biodegradable materials

Agriculture (Ag biotech)
Biological control systems
  • Oxitec (insect-based control of disease-carrying mosquitoes and crop-damaging insects)
Carbon capture and conversion

First generation biofuels include ethanol and plant oil produced from sugar and starch. Second generation biofuels are produced from non-food biomass called lignocellulose and are called cellulosic biofuels. Third generation biofuels are derived from algae and produce feedstock as well as fuel. Fourth generation biofuels are electrofuels or photobiological solar fuels.

Companies in biofuels include Proterro

Skincare products

Blockchain and biology

The ability of blockchain to facilitate transparency, control and sharing of information, while keeping data secure, is being applied to biotechnology. Blockchain technology in data storage and online platforms can improve sharing and access to information and also provide quicker ways for tracking and managing various steps in drug development.

 For immunotherapies such as CAR-T cell therapy, blockchain can provide ways to store, maintain, track and secure information about cells derived from a donor patient like editing performed, storage conditions and transport from donor to recipient. Information must be accessible to patients, physicians, laboratory scientists, logistics companies, supply chains and infusion centers.

Some companies at this intersection include:

Quantum computing and biology

Companies worth noting - Entropica Labs and GTN Ltd

Community biolabs and projects

Consultants in Biotechnology

Biotech VC's and companies with biotech focused VC arms

  • Transtech Conference
  • International Conference on Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology
  • Discovery On Target
  • BIO-Europe
  • Biotech Showcase
  • Cell Series USA
  • The American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting
  • The American Society for Cell Biology annual meeting


Further Resources


1H 2019 biopharma startup and VC report

Richard Murphey



A beginner's guide to gene editing - PubMed


Gene Editing on Center Stage - PubMed


Synthego | Full Stack Genome Engineering



FE Online
August 26, 2021
The Financial Express
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has said that ZyCoV-D is the world's first DNA-based vaccine against the coronavirus and when injected produces the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and elicits an immune response, which plays a vital role in protection from the disease as well as viral clearance.
August 26, 2021
The Weather Channel
It is a game-changer as it is an intradermal vaccine and will help those hesitant to take an injection. - Articles from The Weather Channel |
August 23, 2021
Govt looking at developing a vaccine that can be pan-corona so that if any other virus comes in then the vaccine can respond to it
August 21, 2021
Zydus Cadila, whose Covid vaccine ZyCoV-D for adults and children aged 12 years and above got approval yesterday, said it hopes to produce one crore doses per month by October.
BS Web Team & Reuters
August 20, 2021
Adolescents in the age group of 12-18 years can take the shot in India


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