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Early History of Biotechnology

In 1590, Sacharias Jansen invented compound microscope. Back then, the microscope was used to exam injuries. Not until 1675, Leeuwenhoek discovered microorganisms because of the microscope. And since then, people were able to see not just human beings, but the mini creatures surrounding us. 1830, proteins were discovered. 1855, E. coli bacteria were discovered. And since then E. coli has been friend and foe for human beings at the same time. 1856, Gregor Mendel proposed the law of inheritance. 1862, Louis Pasteur discovered a bacterial origin of fermentation. Now fermentation has been applied for years. Except not knowing that the acteria was doing the job. 1882, chromosomes were discovered by Thomas Morgan.
1915, Mendel’s law of inheritance was integrated with chromosome theory to become the classic genetics. In 1999, Karl Ereky, the Hungarian agriculture engineer, first coined the word “Biotechnology.” 1928, was very important year because that’s when the first antibiotic penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming. And the story went like this, Fleming was working in a microbiological laboratory. On a Friday afternoon, he was in a hurry to leave for the weekend vacation. And since he was in a hurry, he forgot to close back the lid of the petri dish. And because of that, when he got back, the petri dish was completely molded. He was very upset with himself. And he was about to throw away the petri dish.
But upon a second look, he’d noticed that there was a clear zone surrounding the mold, and of course, it turned out that the most secret chemical substance that inhibited rows of the other bacteria. And that’s the discovery of penicillin. So 1928 was a very important year because of discovery of penicillin. 1944, Avery did a very genius experiment, he injected the rough strain of the bacteria to a mouse. and the mouse survives. He then injected the smooth strain of the same bacteria to the mouse. The mouse died. So that indicated that the smooth strain had some kind of material which is toxic to the mouse.
He then headed up the smooth strain and killed the smooth strain, and then injected the dead material to the mouse. The mouse survived. So that suggests that the heat has killed the substance or destroyed the substance, the toxic substance, in this smooth strain. And lastly, he combined the heat-killed smooth strain and a rough strain, and injected again to the mouse. And the mouse died. So that seems to suggest that the killed smooth strain the toxic substance has somehow transferred to the rough strain. And therefore the rough strain becomes toxic or fatal. Now this is probably the first instance of illustration of genetic transfer or genetic engineering, way back in the biotechnology history.

Historically, breakthrough scientific discoveries happened in sequential timeline. The invention of the compound microscope led to the discovery of E. Coli and the bacteria’s origin of fermentation. Protein was discovered in early 19th century, followed by chromosome in the late 19th century. Integrated with Mendel’s Law of Inheritance, chromosome theory forms the basis of modern genetics. In 1928 the discovery of penicillin from Penicillium fungi helped to rescue wounded allied soldiers and ended WWII in a timely manner.

This section starts with the invention of compound microscope in 1590, which led to the discovery of common microorganisms in 1675 and specifically E. Coli in 1855. Consequently, Louis Pasteur discovered the bacterial origin of fermentation in1862. Protein was discovered in 1830, followed by chromosome in1882. Integrated with Mendel’s Law of Inheritance, chromosome theory forms the basis of modern genetics. Finally, it must be noted that serendipitous discovery of penicillin from Penicillium fungi was made by Fleming in 1928.

Slides are provided on the link below. If you want to learn more on penicillin, you can check this article:7 ways penicillin has cured the world for 90 years.

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Pharmacotherapy: Understanding Biotechnology Products

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