Timeline of biotechnology

Last updated

The historical application of biotechnology throughout time is provided below in chronological order.


These discoveries, inventions and modifications are evidence of the application of biotechnology since before the common era and describe notable events in the research, development and regulation of biotechnology.

Before Common Era

Pre-20th century

20th century

21st century


8 July: Researchers report that they succeeded in using a genetically altered variant of R. sulfidophilum to produce spidroins, the main proteins in spider silk. Large-scale production and fiber extrusion of MaSp1-(6-mer) artificial spidroin.webp
8 July: Researchers report that they succeeded in using a genetically altered variant of R. sulfidophilum to produce spidroins, the main proteins in spider silk.
10 November: Scientists show that microorganisms could be employed to mine useful elements from basalt rocks in space. The BioRock Experimental Unit of the space station biomining experiment that demonstrated rare earth element extraction in microgravity and Mars gravity.webp
10 November: Scientists show that microorganisms could be employed to mine useful elements from basalt rocks in space.
25 November: The development of a biotechnology for microbial reactors capable of producing oxygen as well as hydrogen is reported. Formation of Chlorella cell-based spheroids.webp
25 November: The development of a biotechnology for microbial reactors capable of producing oxygen as well as hydrogen is reported.
30 November: The 50-year problem of protein structure prediction is reported to be largely solved with an AI algorithm. Protein structure.png
30 November: The 50-year problem of protein structure prediction is reported to be largely solved with an AI algorithm.


Optical appearance of self-assembled films of sustainable packaging alternative to plastic.webp
Researchers present a bioprinting method to produce steak-like cultured meat. Assembly of fibrous muscle, fat, and vascular tissues to cultured steak.webp
Researchers present a bioprinting method to produce steak-like cultured meat.
The first CRISPR-edited food, tomatoes, goes on public sale. D85 2002 Plant of Thailand.jpg
The first CRISPR-edited food, tomatoes, goes on public sale.


Researchers introduce and demonstrate
the concept of necrobotics. Necrobotics with a spider.png
Researchers introduce and demonstrate the concept of necrobotics .
Remote controlled cyborg cockroaches. Rechargeable cyborg insects with an ultrasoft organic solar cell module.webp
Remote controlled cyborg cockroaches.

Medical applications

Some of these items may also have potential nonmedical applications and vice versa.

A new CRISPR gene editing/repair tool alternative to fully active Cas9 is reported. Comparison of Cas9-, D10A-, and H840A-induced repair phenotypes.jpg
A new CRISPR gene editing/repair tool alternative to fully active Cas9 is reported.
Wastewater surveillance is used to detect monkeypox The detection of monkeypox virus DNA in wastewater samples in the Netherlands.jpg
Wastewater surveillance is used to detect monkeypox


Safety-by-design ways like DNA screening for biosafety and biosecurity to prevent engineered pandemics Overview of DNA synthesis screening components.jpg
Safety-by-design ways like DNA screening for biosafety and biosecurity to prevent engineered pandemics
A bone-like biocomposite 3D printing ink, BactoInk Proof of concept of BactoInk biomineral composites.jpg
A bone-like biocomposite 3D printing ink, BactoInk
Scientists coin and outline a new field 'organoid intelligence' (OI) Architecture of an OI system for wetware computing.jpg
Scientists coin and outline a new field 'organoid intelligence' (OI)

Medical applications

See also


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gene therapy</span> Medical field

Gene therapy is a medical technology which aims to produce a therapeutic effect through the manipulation of gene expression or through altering the biological properties of living cells.

Gene knockdown is an experimental technique by which the expression of one or more of an organism's genes is reduced. The reduction can occur either through genetic modification or by treatment with a reagent such as a short DNA or RNA oligonucleotide that has a sequence complementary to either gene or an mRNA transcript.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Synthetic biology</span> Interdisciplinary branch of biology and engineering

Synthetic biology (SynBio) is a multidisciplinary field of science that focuses on living systems and organisms, and it applies engineering principles to develop new biological parts, devices, and systems or to redesign existing systems found in nature.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">CRISPR</span> Family of DNA sequence found in prokaryotic organisms

CRISPR is a family of DNA sequences found in the genomes of prokaryotic organisms such as bacteria and archaea. These sequences are derived from DNA fragments of bacteriophages that had previously infected the prokaryote. They are used to detect and destroy DNA from similar bacteriophages during subsequent infections. Hence these sequences play a key role in the antiviral defense system of prokaryotes and provide a form of acquired immunity. CRISPR is found in approximately 50% of sequenced bacterial genomes and nearly 90% of sequenced archaea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gene targeting</span> Genetic technique that uses homologous recombination to change an endogenous gene

Gene targeting is a biotechnological tool used to change the DNA sequence of an organism. It is based on the natural DNA-repair mechanism of Homology Directed Repair (HDR), including Homologous Recombination. Gene targeting can be used to make a range of sizes of DNA edits, from larger DNA edits such as inserting entire new genes into an organism, through to much smaller changes to the existing DNA such as a single base-pair change. Gene targeting relies on the presence of a repair template to introduce the user-defined edits to the DNA. The user will design the repair template to contain the desired edit, flanked by DNA sequence corresponding (homologous) to the region of DNA that the user wants to edit; hence the edit is targeted to a particular genomic region. In this way Gene Targeting is distinct from natural homology-directed repair, during which the ‘natural’ DNA repair template of the sister chromatid is used to repair broken DNA. The alteration of DNA sequence in an organism can be useful in both a research context – for example to understand the biological role of a gene – and in biotechnology, for example to alter the traits of an organism.

Myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy is a rare genetic condition characterized by reduced body fat and increased skeletal muscle size. Affected individuals have up to twice the usual amount of muscle mass in their bodies, but increases in muscle strength are not usually congruent. Myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy is not known to cause medical problems, and affected individuals are intellectually normal. The prevalence of this condition is unknown.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Genetically modified animal</span> Animal that has been genetically modified

Genetically modified animals are animals that have been genetically modified for a variety of purposes including producing drugs, enhancing yields, increasing resistance to disease, etc. The vast majority of genetically modified animals are at the research stage while the number close to entering the market remains small.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Genome editing</span> Type of genetic engineering

Genome editing, or genome engineering, or gene editing, is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted, modified or replaced in the genome of a living organism. Unlike early genetic engineering techniques that randomly inserts genetic material into a host genome, genome editing targets the insertions to site-specific locations. The basic mechanism involved in genetic manipulations through programmable nucleases is the recognition of target genomic loci and binding of effector DNA-binding domain (DBD), double-strand breaks (DSBs) in target DNA by the restriction endonucleases, and the repair of DSBs through homology-directed recombination (HDR) or non-homologous end joining (NHEJ).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cas9</span> Microbial protein found in Streptococcus pyogenes M1 GAS

Cas9 is a 160 kilodalton protein which plays a vital role in the immunological defense of certain bacteria against DNA viruses and plasmids, and is heavily utilized in genetic engineering applications. Its main function is to cut DNA and thereby alter a cell's genome. The CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technique was a significant contributor to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 being awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">HIV/AIDS research</span> Field of immunology research

HIV/AIDS research includes all medical research that attempts to prevent, treat, or cure HIV/AIDS, as well as fundamental research about the nature of HIV as an infectious agent and AIDS as the disease caused by HIV.

The Icahn Genomics Institute is a biomedical and genomics research institute within the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Its aim is to establish a new generation of medicines that can better treat diseases afflicting the world, including cancer, heart disease and infectious pathogens. To do this, the institute’s doctors and scientists are developing and employing new types of treatments that utilize DNA and RNA based therapies, such as CRISPR, siRNA, RNA vaccines, and CAR T cells, and searching for novel drug targets through the use of functional genomics and data science. The institute is led by Brian Brown, a leading expert in gene therapy, genetic engineering, and molecular immunology.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feng Zhang</span> Chinese–American biochemist

Feng Zhang is a Chinese–American biochemist. Zhang currently holds the James and Patricia Poitras Professorship in Neuroscience at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also has appointments with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is most well known for his central role in the development of optogenetics and CRISPR technologies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Epigenome editing</span>

Epigenome editing or epigenome engineering is a type of genetic engineering in which the epigenome is modified at specific sites using engineered molecules targeted to those sites. Whereas gene editing involves changing the actual DNA sequence itself, epigenetic editing involves modifying and presenting DNA sequences to proteins and other DNA binding factors that influence DNA function. By "editing” epigenomic features in this manner, researchers can determine the exact biological role of an epigenetic modification at the site in question.

Biotechnology risk is a form of existential risk from biological sources, such as genetically engineered biological agents. The release of such high-consequence pathogens could be

Human germline engineering is the process by which the genome of an individual is edited in such a way that the change is heritable. This is achieved by altering the genes of the germ cells, which then mature into genetically modified eggs and sperm. For safety, ethical, and social reasons, there is broad agreement among the scientific community and the public that germline editing for reproduction is a red line that should not be crossed at this point in time. There are differing public sentiments, however, on whether it may be performed in the future depending on whether the intent would be therapeutic or non-therapeutic.

Off-target genome editing refers to nonspecific and unintended genetic modifications that can arise through the use of engineered nuclease technologies such as: clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9, transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALEN), meganucleases, and zinc finger nucleases (ZFN). These tools use different mechanisms to bind a predetermined sequence of DNA (“target”), which they cleave, creating a double-stranded chromosomal break (DSB) that summons the cell's DNA repair mechanisms and leads to site-specific modifications. If these complexes do not bind at the target, often a result of homologous sequences and/or mismatch tolerance, they will cleave off-target DSB and cause non-specific genetic modifications. Specifically, off-target effects consist of unintended point mutations, deletions, insertions inversions, and translocations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">He Jiankui affair</span> 2018 scientific and bioethical controversy

The He Jiankui affair is a scientific and bioethical controversy concerning the use of genome editing following its first use on humans by Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who edited the genomes of human embryos in 2018. He became widely known on 26 November 2018 after he announced that he had created the first human genetically edited babies. He was listed in the Time's 100 most influential people of 2019. The affair led to ethical and legal controversies, resulting in the indictment of He and two of his collaborators, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou. He eventually received widespread international condemnation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">CRISPR gene editing</span> Gene editing method

CRISPR gene editing is a genetic engineering technique in molecular biology by which the genomes of living organisms may be modified. It is based on a simplified version of the bacterial CRISPR-Cas9 antiviral defense system. By delivering the Cas9 nuclease complexed with a synthetic guide RNA (gRNA) into a cell, the cell's genome can be cut at a desired location, allowing existing genes to be removed and/or new ones added in vivo.

Prime editing is a 'search-and-replace' genome editing technology in molecular biology by which the genome of living organisms may be modified. The technology directly writes new genetic information into a targeted DNA site. It uses a fusion protein, consisting of a catalytically impaired Cas9 endonuclease fused to an engineered reverse transcriptase enzyme, and a prime editing guide RNA (pegRNA), capable of identifying the target site and providing the new genetic information to replace the target DNA nucleotides. It mediates targeted insertions, deletions, and base-to-base conversions without the need for double strand breaks (DSBs) or donor DNA templates.

Selective organ targeting (SORT) is a novel approach in the field of targeted drug delivery that systematically engineers multiple classes of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) to enable targeted delivery of therapeutics to specific organs in the body. The SORT molecule alters tissue tropism by adjusting the composition and physical characteristics of the nanoparticle. Adding a permanently cationic lipid, a permanently anionic lipid, or ionizable amino lipid increases delivery to the lung, spleen, and liver, respectively. SORT LNPs utilize SORT molecules to accurately tune and mediate gene delivery and editing, resulting in predictable and manageable protein synthesis from mRNA in particular organ(s), which can potentially improve the efficacy of drugs while reducing side effects.


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