Although people tend to think of biotechnology
as a new science, its roots are traceable back to over 6,000 years to the time
when beer was first fermented.
the history of biotechnology begins when
primitive human beings became domesticated enough to breed plants and animals,
gather and process herbs for medicine, make bread, wine and beer, create many
fermented food products including yoghurt, cheese and various soy products and
to create vaccines to immunize themselves against diseases and this goes back
to between 5000 to 10,000 BC. Here are the stages of development of
biotechnology throughout history:
4000 BC Classical biotechnology: Dairy farming develops in the
Middle East; Egyptians use
yeasts to bake leavened bread and to make wine.
2000 BC Egyptians, Sumerians and Chinese
develop techniques of fermentation, brewing and cheese-making.
1500 AD Acidic cooking techniques lead to
sauerkraut and yoghurt - two examples of using beneficial bacteria to flavor
and preserve food. Aztecs make cakes from Spirulina algae.
1859 On the
Origin of Species - English naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of evolution -
is published in London.
1861 French chemist Louis Pasteur develops
pasteurization - preserving food by heating it to destroy harmful microbes.
1865 Austrian botanist and monk Gregor Mendel
describes his experiments in heredity, founding the field of genetics.
1879 William James Beal develops the first
experimental hybrid corn.
1910 American biologist Thomas Hunt Morgan
discovers that genes are located on chromosomes.
FitzGerald's development and production of
first diptheria antitoxin lead to the establishment of the
Toronto Antitoxin Laboratories,
later renamed the Connaught Laboratories. The labs now serve as a division of
Aventis Pasteur the world's largest producer of vaccines
of insulin at the University
by Banting, Best, Collip and MacLeod.
1922 development and use of insulin in the
treatment of diabetes.
genetic transformation - genes can transfer from one strain of bacteria to
Modern biotechnology or second generation
biotechnology grew out of molecular biology and genetic engineering and
emerged after World War II. It involved the integration of microbiology,
biochemistry and chemical engineering for large-scale fermentation, sewage
treatment, and for applications in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries,
is in its early stages.
1941 Danish microbiologist A. Jost coins the
term genetic engineering in a lecture on sexual reproduction in yeast.
1943 Oswald Avery, Colin MacLead and Maclyn
McCarty use bacteria to show that DNA carries the cell's genetic information.
1953 James Watson and Francis Crick describe
the double helix of DNA, using x-ray diffraction patterns of Rosalind Franklin
and Maurice Wilkins.
Hornykiewicz, who originally discovered that Parkinson's disease patients had
less dopamine in their brains, continued to contribute to the development of
L-Dopa as a therapeutic agent while working in
of the hematopoietic stem cell by
Early 1970's Paul Berg, Stanley Cohen and
Herbert Boyer develop ways to cut and splice DNA, introducing recombinant DNA
The 1973 breakthrough discovery of
recombinant DNA became the platform for research in cloning, genomics and
of P-glycoprotein by Toronto
1975 Scientists organize the Asilomar
conference to discuss regulating recombinant DNA experiments. George Kohler
and Cesar Milstein show that fusing cells can generate monoclonal antibodies.
1982 First genetically engineered product -
human insulin produced by Eli Lilly and Company using E. coli bacteria - is
approved for use by diabetics.
researchers of the T-cell receptor, described as the "holy grail" of
1984 Kary Mullis develops polymerase chain
reaction (PCR) to mass-produce specific DNA fragments.
1986 first release into the environment of a
genetically engineered plant (a tobacco).
1987. First release of genetically engineered
microbes in field experiments.
1990, the international Human Genome Project,
a 13-year effort, is launched. The goals of the project were to identify and
sequence all of the genes in the human genome.
2001 Due to effective
resource and technological advances the Human Genome Project accelerated and a
map of the entire human genome sequence with analysis was published.