'Bacterial rope, DNA chips to shape Indian biotech scene'
Material like bacterial rope and DNA chips will shape up the 2050 scene as the Indian biotechnology sector leapfrogs into the future, eminent scientist Pushpa M. Bhargava says.
"Bacterial ropes that essentially consist of certain mutant bacteria that have the ability to grow into spagetti-like structures, when impregnated with certain metal ions can be stronger than steel but much lighter and biodegradable. Thus biotechnology will help in the production of new materials," said Bhargava, the founder-director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.
DNA chips, as part of predictive medicine, will enable monitoring and predicting the possibility of diseases and thereby instituting preventive measures or treatments.
"Predictive medicine in the form of DNA chips will revolutionise the healthcare scene by 2050," Bhargava said on the sidelines of the Frontiers of Science conference organised by the Centre for Natural Sciences and Philosophy and the Critical Issues Forum, Kolkata.
Bhargava also predicted that molecules derived from plants will play a huge role in future.
"Traditional plant-based drug repertoire will help overcome problems of drug resistance," he said.
Genetically engineered plants will show the way towards production of monoclonal antibodies(MABs) for diagnosis and therapy, he added.
"MABs are single chemical species of antibodies produced in the laboratory by a special technique. Mouse MABs can be used for the diagnosis of human diseases. As human MABs are difficult to produce in the laboratory, genetically engineered plants are likely to find wide application in the production of human MABs," said Bhargava.
New diagnostic techniques are also on the anvil.
"New medical diagnostic technologies such as combination of MRI and Pet-SCAN for correlation of structure and function in normal and diseased individuals will be used," predicted the scientist.
"Portable home diagnostic kits will be widely available."
On the flip side, however, there might be an increase in incidences of certain disorders.
"Aging disorders such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis might increase. Incidence of diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and psychiatric disorders are predicted to go up," noted Bhargava.
In the field of vaccines, DNA vaccines will gain acceptance.
"DNA vaccines would be much cheaper than protein antigen-based vaccines that are generally used today," he explained.