BIOTECHNOLOGY

 

With the advent of recombinant DNA technique and understanding at the cellular and molecular level of the structure and function, it is now possible to harness the genetic diversity in the living organisms for the manufacture of useful products and production of novel microbes, plants and animals with improved qualities. The Department of Biotechnology, under the Ministry of Science and Technology in 1986 has promoted and accelerated the pace of development of biotechnology in the country. Through more than 900 R&D projects, demonstrations and creation of infrastructural facilities, the impact of the biotechnology related developments in agriculture, health care, environment and industry, has already been visible and the efforts are now culminating into products and processes. More than 5,000 research publications, 4,000 post-doctoral students, 22 technologies transferred to industries and 21 patents filed including two US patents can be considered as a modest beginning.

The year 2005-06 was an eventful one in the annals of Indian biotech industry. It registered revenues in excess of $1 billion and recorded a 36.55 per cent growth. The goal is to push revenue generatioin in the sector to $ 5 billion and generate 1 million jobs by 2010.

BIOTECHNOLOGY INFORMATION NETWORK (BTISNET)

It works as a distributed database and network organisation to provide an integrated information resource on all aspects of Biotechnology. The BTISNET comprises ten Distributed Information Centres (DICs) and thirty-eight Distributed Information Sub- Centres (DISCs) spread across the country at various institutions and universities. The Apex centre at the department provides facilities for Patent Search in Biotechnology over internet. The DICs are being networked through Ku-Band VSATs of NICNET for the highspeed communication connectivity to internet as well as BTISNET. A mirror-site on European Molecular Biology Network (EMBnet) is being established at the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad to serve the needs ofnational users.

INFRASTRUCTURE FACILITIES

In most advanced areas of modern biology and biotechnology, the infrastructure facilities have been a tremendous boost for R&D and Services. The National Facility for Microbial Type Culture Collection (MTCC) at Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh conserves more than 10,000 industrial microbes; National Facility for Blue Green Algae (BGA) Collection at Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi possesses about 700 blue green algae; National Facility for Marine Cynobacteria at Bharatidasan University, Trichurapalli stores more than 250 strains of marine cyano bacteria collected from Indian sea shores; National Facility for Plant Tissue Culture Repository at NBPGR, Pusa, New Delhi has 800 in-vitro conserved crop species; laboratory Animal House Facilities at Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad have supplied 80,000 and 55,000 experimental animals; Centre for Genetic Engineering and strain manipulation at Madurai Kamraj University, Madurai works on streptomycin group of antibiotics; and the Biochemical engineering Research and Process Development Centre at IMTECH, Chandigarh helps in testing and standardisation of high value metabolities in large bioreactors for commercial feasibility studies.The new Repositories namely Repository on Cryopreservation of blood cells at Indian Institute of Haematology, Mumbai, Repository on Medicinal and Aromatic Plant materials at Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow and Repository on Filaria sand reagents, MGIMS, Sevagram have started functioning since last year on similar lines. Thousands of scientists, students, and industries are regularly indenting the services of these facilities.

At the Indian Institute of Science, Bangluru, a major programme support in the high priority areas of modern biology was launched for a period of five years involving 55 faculty members to carry out research on three sub-programmes : infectious diseases, drug and molecular design as well as genome diversity and genetic disorders.

HUMAN GENETICS AND GENOME ANALYSIS

Major infrastructure has been established to pursue post-geneomic research activities and to keep pace with international efforts to exploit the available human animal and microbial genomics available in Public domain. Eighteen genetics diagnosis cum counselling units provided services to affected families to reduce common genetic disorder/disease burden. Several projects in the area of human genetics, human genome diversity, functional, structural, microbial, biocomputing, pharmacogenomics, clinical proteomics were implemented.

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