One of the fastest growing areas of treatment for disease is that of biotherapeutics to manufacture medicines. This is the discovery and development of proteins and antibodies to treat disease.
This includes monoclonal antibodies which, by binding and removal of key pathogenic mediators, can treat disease. For example, Xolair binds IgE to treat asthma and Infliximab binds TNF alpha for treatment of arthritis. In addition this technology is now being developed to target treatments to the desired cell/tissue in the body. Finally manufacture of naturally occurring proteins to treat diseases is also gathering momentum such as interleukins and interferons.
Development and manufacture of these biologic drugs is a specialist skill and is carried out in a highly regulated environment by people with a sound understanding of biotechnology.
Many disciplines contribute to the success of these projects. From the research side, undergraduate degrees or postgraduate MSc courses (especially with significant industrial placements) in subjects such as molecular biology, cell biology and biotechnology, coupled with a knowledge of immunology, would be key.
The route into the manufacture of these agents may be through an undergraduate degree, especially one with a long term industrial placement, or a specialist MSc such as Bioprocessing or Biological and Bioprocess Engineering. It is a multidisciplinary subject; entrants may have a life science, chemistry or an engineering background.