Biotechnology is omnipresent in modern life. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the medicine we take, the fuels we use – biotechnology influences them all. Modern biotechnology is making breakthroughs in innovative products and technologies. Pioneering work at Amsterdam Science park is taking the field to the next level.
Biotechnology utilises biological systems and living organisms to make technological advances. It’s not a new science – biotech processes with microorganisms have been used for more than 6,000 years to make food products such as bread, cheese and alcoholic drinks. Modern biotech research and development has applications ranging from agriculture to healthcare, industrial manufacturing to reducing carbon emissions, efficient waste disposal to forensic science. Marine, environmental and food biotechnology are also areas of focus.
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Amsterdam Science park is home to leading research institutes and companies in biotech life sciences. Students, scientists and academics form a knowledge network that offers many benefits to businesses and entrepreneurs who want to harness the latest innovations in the field. A few examples:
From its base at Amsterdam Science Park, the biophysics group at the AMOLF research institute conducts fundamental research in two major areas: the development of proteins in the body and cellular structures, specifically stem-cell research. This research has a range of medical applications: exploring how cells copy pieces of an intruder’s DNA, such as a virus, for instance. Or how proteins can misfold, a process believed to underlie many age-related diseases.
The group’s cellular research side focuses on organoids, miniature versions of a human organ that can be grown outside the body and can be used to model diseases and to test medicines.
The AMOLF biophysics group is involved in several entrepreneurial projects with companies of all sizes, for example with Unilever, Amsterdam-based startup LUMIX and organoid technology company HUB Organoids.
Macrobian Biotech is leading the way in new treatments for disorders of the dopamine system. Co-founder Marten Smidt believes the drugs currently being developed can bring new hope to those with Parkinson’s disease. “I’ve been working on dopamine neurons for 25 years,” says Smidt, “so I know quite a lot about the molecular programming of these neurons. They are involved in many psychiatric disorders.”
Based on this research, formulations for a number of new medications were created and patented. Smidt says that the major target is Parkinson’s disease. “Theoretically, we can translate everything we do for Parkinson’s to other disorders, such as schizophrenia and ADHD. But for clarity, we said: the focus is Parkinson’s, because there is no good medication for that yet. So it is very necessary.”
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