Treatments developed with the aid of biotechnology
Treatments using monoclonal antibodies are being used now-a-days against numerous forms of cancer. In this type of treatment, synthetic monoclonal antibody is attached with the cancer cell followed by killing the cancerous cells in different ways. The monoclonal antibody Cetuximab blocks the growth signals produced by the cancer cells resulting in the halting of the cells growth and thus colon cancer is treated. Gemtuzumab combined with strong chemotherapeuticals are administered into the cancer cell where they become active and minimize damage to adjacent normal tissues, help in treating acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML). Rituximab facilitates the cancer cell to be more visible to the immune system to get destroyed. This antibody is useful in treating non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody to treat breast cancer cells in women expressing the protein HER2. Herceptin specially binds to those cancer cells and discontinue their proliferation. A radioactive particle is combined with Ibritumomab monoclonal antibody to deliver the radiation directly to the cancer cells
which does not harm the neighbouring normal tissues. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is treated in this way also other than Rituximab antibody.
Generally, haemophilic patients must go through regular infusions of the missing clotting factor VIII (most common form) to treat the disorder. In some cases; patients develop antibodies against the infused clotting factor, making the replacement unsuccessful. VIIa, a recombinant human factor, has been synthesized to effectively treat intense bleeding in patients by circulating inhibitors.
Since 1950s, bone marrow transplants are being performed to treat the patients suffering from different disorders of the blood viz. leukaemia. The patient undergoes chemotherapy to kill cancerous cells before a transplant. To get an exact match, bone marrow is transplanted either from the patient’s own body or from a person having matching genetic make-up. To check the genetic make-up similarity, blood samples from donors are examined to know their HLAs (human leukocyte antigens).The donor’s bone marrow cells may attack the patient’s tissue if the donor and patient do not have matching HLAs.
Due to the chronic shortage of donors for various organs or tissues, biotechnology is trying to solve this problem by xenotransplantation. Here the donor organs are procured from different species like monkey and pigs. Although this technology is still being used on a small scale, nearly 60,000 transplants of heart valves, procuring heart valves from pigs, are accomplished in the USA every year.
Immunosuppressant medication is used by doctors to inhibit donor organs being rejected by the patient’s body. Albeit this prevents the organ from being rejected, it weakens the patients’ immune systemand enhances the susceptibility to different infections. Biotechnologically derived, Cyclosporine, available naturally from a fungus that grows in soil, suppresses only a part of the immune system involving rejection and produces a less severe effect on the remaining part of the immune system.