History of Biotechnology

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  • 500 B.C.: In China, the first antibiotic, moldy soybean curds, is put to use to treat boils.
  • A.D. 100: The first insecticide is produced in China from powdered chrysanthemums.
  • 1761: English surgeon Edward Jenner pioneers vaccination, inoculating a child with a viral smallpox vaccine.
  • 1870: Breeders crossbreed cotton, developing hundreds of varieties with superior qualities.
  • 1870: The first experimental corn hybrid is produced in a laboratory.
  • 1911: American pathologist Peyton Rous discovers the first cancer-causing virus.
  • 1928: Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin.
  • 1933: Hybrid corn is commercialized.
  • 1942: Penicillin is mass-produced in microbes for the first time.
  • 1950s: The first synthetic antibiotic is created.
  • 1951: Artificial insemination of livestock is accomplished using frozen semen.
  • 1958: DNA is made in a test tube for the first time.
  • 1978: Recombinant human insulin is produced for the first time.
  • 1979: Human growth hormone is synthesized for the first time.
  • 1980: Smallpox is globally eradicated following 20-year mass vaccination effort.
  • 1980: The U.S. Supreme Court approves the principle of patenting organisms, which allows the Exxon oil company to patent an oil-eating microorganism.
  • 1981: Scientists at Ohio University produce the first transgenic animals by transferring genes from other animals into mice.
  • 1982: The first recombinant DNA vaccine for livestock is developed.
  • 1982: The first biotech drug, human insulin produced in genetically modified bacteria, is approved by FDA. Genentech and Eli Lilly developed the product.
  • 1985: Genetic markers are found for kidney disease and cystic fibrosis.
  • 1986: The first recombinant vaccine for humans, a vaccine for hepatitis B, is approved.
  • 1986: Interferon becomes the first anticancer drug produced through biotech.
  • 1988: The first pest-resistant corn, Bt corn, is produced.
  • 1990: The first successful gene therapy is performed on a 4-year-old girl suffering from an immune disorder.
  • 1992: FDA approves bovine somatotropin (BST) for increased milk production in dairy cows.
  • 1993: FDA approves Betaseron®, the first of several biotech products that have had a major impact on multiple sclerosis treatment.
  • 1994: The first breast cancer gene is discovered.
  • 1994: The Americas are certified polio-free by the International Commission for the Certification of Polio Eradication.
  • 1995: Gene therapy, immune-system modulation and recombinantly produced antibodies enter the clinic in the war against cancer.
  • 1996: A gene associated with Parkinson’s disease is discovered.
  • 1996: The first genetically engineered crop is commercialized.
  • 1997: A sheep named Dolly in Scotland becomes the first animal cloned from an adult cell.
  • 1998: FDA approves Herceptin®, a pharmacogenomic breast cancer drug for patients whose cancer overexpresses the HER2 receptor.
  • 1999: A diagnostic test allows quick identification of Bovine Spongicorm Encephalopathy (BSE, also known as “mad cow” disease) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
  • 2000: Kenya field-tests its first biotech crop, virus-resistant sweet potato.

 

  • 2001: FDA approves Gleevec® (imatinib), a gene-targeted drug for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. Gleevec is the first gene-targeted drug to receive FDA approval.
  • 2002: EPA approves the first transgenic rootworm-resistant corn.
  • 2002: The banteng, an endangered species, is cloned for the first time.
  • 2003: China grants the world’s first regulatory approval of a gene therapy product, Gendicine (Shenzhen SiBiono GenTech), which delivers the p53 gene as a therapy for squamous cell head and neck cancer.
  • 2003: The Human Genome Project completes sequencing of the human genome.
  • 2004: UN Food and Agriculture Organization endorses biotech crops, stating biotechnology is a complementary tool to traditional farming methods that can help poor farmers and consumers in developing nations.
  • 2004: FDA approves the first antiangiogenic drug for cancer, Avastin®.
  • 2005: The Energy Policy Act is passed and signed into law, authorizing numerous incentives for bioethanol development.
  • 2006: FDA approves the recombinant vaccine Gardasil®, the first vaccine developed against human papillomavirus (HPV), an infection implicated in cervical and throat cancers, and the first preventative cancer vaccine.
  • 2006: USDA grantsDow AgroSciences the first regulatory approval for a plant-made vaccine.
  • 2007: FDA approves the H5N1 vaccine, the first vaccine approved for avian flu.
  • 2009: Global biotech crop acreage reaches 330 million acres.
  • 2009: FDA approves the first genetically engineered animal for production of a recombinant form of human antithrombin.
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