Biotechnology-derived medicines: What are they A pharmacological and a historical perspective

Fernando De Mora, Rosa Torres

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Biologicals, that is, medicines obtained from living organisms, are not new. History provides many examples of animal or human extracts being used to prevent or treat human diseases. Physicians have thus been aware for centuries of the therapeutic value of our own molecules. The difficulty laid many times in how to obtain these self or self-like compounds. Biotechnology- a technology by which manipulated living organisms are utilized to generate useful products such as drugs- provided a revolutionary answer. We know how to genetically engineer bacteria, yeast, insect or mammalian cells to synthesize human molecules, the so-called human recombinant therapeutic proteins. Murine and humanized monoclonal antibodies against human antigens are also biotechnological products. The number of biotechnological drugs being marketed, and those in clinical trials or awaiting authorization, is growing exponentially. We are now still on the beginnings of a new era in pharmacotherapy of which it is impossible to see the end. Pharmacologists need to keep pace with these changes and develop new skills. They may even have to challenge old assumptions in order to investigate new molecules. Using an easy and comprehensible approach, this review article revisits bio-concepts, and underlines the real dimension of the challenge. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-157
JournalJournal of Generic Medicines
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


  • Biologicals
  • Biomedicines
  • Biopharmaceuticals
  • Biosimilars
  • Recombinant DNA
  • Therapeutic proteins


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