This biomedical engineering core junior unit of study provides an introduction to the relatively recent, and rapidly growing, biotechnology industry, with a focus on the current key commercial applications. In the 1990s, the word "biotech" entered our lexicon as a synonym for overnight investment wealth. The biotechnology acronym GM (genetically modified) also entered our lexicon in the 1990s. Biotechnology can be broadly defined as the commercial exploitation of biological processes for industrial and other purposes. A significant focus for commercial activities has been GM technology: GM microorganisms, plants, animals, and even humans (gene therapy). The "biotech industry" arose rapidly in the late 20th century, and is now one of the largest industries in the world, and is one of the cornerstones of the global biomedical industry which comprises three main sectors: Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotechnology. Significant global commercial biotechnology activity concerns the manufacture of therapeutic compounds from GM microorganisms using bioreactors, for example insulin. Another significant sector is agricultural: "agri-biotech" which concerns GM higher lifeforms (plants and animals) primarily for the food industry, and also other industries such as the energy industry (biofuels). The third sector concerns therapeutic GM of humans, known as "gene-therapy". Some other important biotechnologies will also be explored including monoclonal antibodies, genome sequencing and personalised medicine, and RNA-interference technology (RNAi). This unit of study begins with an industry focus, overviewing the rise of the biotechnology industry, the key corporations, and their products. It then moves to a historical and technological overview of the developments on which the biotechnology industry is based: fermentation, bioreactors, process analysis and automation, genome sequencing, GM (genetic modification) technology, monoclonal antibodies. The unit then explores some important case studies: 1. Insulin manufacture in bioreactors using GM microorganisms. 2. Monoclonal antibodies, the foundation of the diagnostics industry, and their interaction with antibodies. 3. Green biotechnology. The use of biotechnology for developing alternative environmentally-friendly processes and products. 4. Bioremediation. The use of biotechnology for waste processing. 5. Gene therapy, with insights from the retrovirus, the transposon, and the plasmid. 6. RNAi (RNA-interference). How suppression of messenger RNA is opening up new research and commercial directions in biomedical engineering. 7. DNA sequencing and personalised medicine. 8. Bioethics. Human genetic screening, community perceptions of GM products, and patenting of genetic information. Note: Biotechnology is an industrial discipline. It has areas of commonality with the related disciplines of Chemical Engineering, Molecular Biology, and Bioinformatics. AMME1961 is not a study of Bioinformatics, nor is it a study of Molecular Biology. For Molecular Biology, biomedical engineering students are referred to the recommended elective MBLG1001. For Bioinformatics, biomedical engineering students are referred to the recommended elective COMP5424.
Lectures, Tutorials/ Lab Classes
Through semester assessment (60%) and Final Exam (40%)
Note: CHEM1101 is scheduled for semester 1 Year 1 and AMME1961 for Semester 2 Year 1. Students should ideally ensure that they follow this schedule.
HSC Biology and HSC Chemistry. Summer bridging courses are available for students who did not complete HSC Biology or Chemistry