North Carolina is known throughout the world for its health care – not only for its hospitals and clinics but also for its research labs and manufacturing plants.
And biotechnology plays a role throughout.
Vaccines are being developed against cancer, rabies, malaria and many other diseases, with the help of biotechnology tools.
Biotechnology techniques are used to develop and manufacture therapeutic proteins, insulin and blood-clotting factors.
In Clayton, for example, Talecris Biotherapeutics makes Gamimune N and Gamunex, immunoglobulin intravenous therapy products used to prevent or treat some illnesses that can occur when a person’s immune system alone cannot prevent those diseases.
Andrea Bourdelais, researcher and associate professorat UNC Wilmington's Center for Marine Scienceexamines pipettes of florescent tracers to discover how natural products from marine organisms may have therapeutic potential in developing new biosensors and bioassays for the detection of toxins and natural compounds. Courtesy of UNCW/Jamie Moncrief
Rapid and cost-effective diagnostic tests for strep throat, cancer and high cholesterol have been developed with the use of biotechnology. Early diagnosis of these and other diseases leads to earlier and more effective treatment.
LabCorp, headquartered in Burlington, is a pioneer in technologies for diagnostic testing and genetic analysis of diseases such as cancer, HIV and cystic fibrosis. An Asheville company, Genova Diagnostics, specializes in developing non-invasive tests to diagnose digestive diseases.
Genetic tests can warn of potential diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and asthma so therapies can begin as early as possible.
Physician researchers in North Carolina, with grant help from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, are also reporting major advances in using biotechnology capabilities to adapt animal organs for human use and even growing organs from donors’ own cells.
Drug Discovery Center of Innovation
This collaboration, led by The Hamner Institutes, will bring treatments to market faster. Its initial area of focus is cancer-related treatments.
The Triangle Global Health Consortium is a group of academic, governmental, business and nonprofit organizations working together to establish North Carolina as an international center for research, training, education, advocacy and business development dedicated to improving the health of the world’s communities.
Thanks to biotechnology, even plants can now be engineered to produce large quantities of vaccines and other biologics for health care uses.
Biolex Therapeutics, a drug-development company based in Pittsboro, uses a tiny aquatic plant called lemna, or duckweed, to make complex proteins and monoclonal antibodies.