The Biotechnology Revolution: Using Nature to Fight DiseaseBy Juan Silanes | Tue, 06/29/2021 - 09:02
What if nature held all the answers to human problems? Let me rephrase that: What if nature just needs a push to become the hero and savior of human nature? At the end of the day, we are biology and chemistry, we are, well … nature. This is where biotechnology comes in handy. In this article, I will explain why it is important, and what my team at Inosan Biopharma and I think about this disruptive way to create solutions.
Before we go any further, let’s answer the question some of you may be asking yourselves: What is biotechnology? We can say it is science applied to nature, but that definition would fall short. We think about it as a deep understanding of nature, how it works and the processes that transform it into specific and effective solutions for the problems we have. We can find biotechnology in drugs, food and when cleaning the ocean. Its use is really wide. In the health industry, we need biotechnology to help people overcome diseases.
We already have pharma, I know, but think about it like this: pharma is 2D and biotech is 4D. In pharma, you have to create new molecules to attack any given problem. In biotech, we use the organism’s natural processes, and those processes will have an input and output in time to produce the exact treatment, vaccine or drug the patient requires. Pharma works on effects and biotech on causes.
At Inosan Biopharma, the specific part of biotechnology we work with are antibodies. We take another organism to create highly specific antibodies to treat different health issues, like our antivenoms and our soon-to-be-launched antiSARS-CoV-2. It’s like injecting into the patients an army of blue helmets to expel a specific disease and bring them peace. They already have antibodies, they just need backup.
Another great example of biotechnology applied to health are the vaccines for COVID-19 and the use of mRNA, which is, precisely, the vaccine and just the first step in how the big labs will set the tone with for future developments and the industry.
Biotechnology in Mexico
It is a ying-yang situation. There are only a few biotech companies and the vast majority of them buy products from other countries, their recipes, or just help with the final steps of the process, like packaging. We also have the complete opposite in the country: award-winning scientists, well-renowned companies and some of the biggest players, particularly in antivenoms.
In the past, biotechnology had a more questionable risk/benefit ratio because the method of producing antibodies resulted in a lot of adverse effects. We spent over four decades creating specific and sophisticated techniques that implied a profound understanding of the background science, and nowadays, we can produce antibodies with a single-digit probability of prompting an adverse reaction, proving that it has a soaring risk/benefit relation.
With our expertise and collaborations with different institutions and governments around the world, we’ve reached the point that when the world talks about immunotherapeutic treatments for patients affected by animal envenoming, Mexico is a highly appreciated reference due to our high standards, effectiveness, technology, science and how we use nature in our favor.
After we left our previous biotech project – the one my father started – Inosan Biopharma revolutionized the previous technology and brought it to the next level to take our production platform to new heights, meet the most demanding regulatory standards, and improve the access of our treatments for communities in need on a global scale.
I believe that Mexico has the scientists, educational programs, technology and raw material to become a world power in biotechnology. We aim to be an inspiration for the next generations and other laboratories so they can mirror our company model, always with the mindset of helping people.
Biotechnology After the Pandemic
As I wrote before, one of the greatest examples we have of how biotechnology helps the real world are the vaccines for COVID-19. Different laboratories and manufacturers around the world have invested a lot of resources into bringing effective solutions for the population and it translated in the acceptance of a new technology like mRNA.
Exponential growth in the industry is my bet.
Once we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, all the big players will start to change their focus onto something else, but with new knowledge and experience. They will create some of the most exciting health solutions we’ve ever seen and I’m sure that we all will get to witness a revolution in how we think about and cure diseases. Biotechnology will gain a lot of exposure, it will translate to more talent coming into the industry.
Antibodies are claiming the rights they already had, but which we couldn’t exploit because we needed better technology and knowledge.
With the pandemic, the risk/benefit relation has become more important not only to laboratories and manufacturers, but to the general public that is concerned about what doctors and nurses are putting into their bodies.
Biotechnology is the most advanced, safe and effective way to create ideal – and most importantly – highly specific solutions to the problems of emerging growing diseases like SARS-CoV-2 and neglected diseases like animal envenoming.
To solve these issues we have to work as a team: scientists, laboratories, manufacturers, institutions, governments and health professionals. Competition is good for the market, but teamwork is great for the people.