Production of Vaccines, Antibiotics, and Hormones


A women getting an injection

OpenStax Biology 2e

Traditional vaccination strategies use weakened or inactive forms of microorganisms to mount the initial immune response. Modern techniques use the genes of microorganisms cloned into vectors to mass produce the desired antigen. Doctors then introduce the antigen into the body to stimulate the primary immune response and trigger immune memory. The medical field has used genes cloned from the influenza virus to combat the constantly changing strains of this virus.

Antibiotics are a biotechnological product. Microorganisms, such as fungi, naturally produce them to attain an advantage over bacterial populations. Cultivating and manipulating fungal cells produces antibodies.

Scientists used recombinant DNA technology to produce large-scale quantities of human insulin in E. coli as early as 1978. Previously, it was only possible to treat diabetes with pig insulin, which caused allergic reactions in humans because of differences in the gene product. In addition, doctors use human growth hormone (HGH) to treat growth disorders in children. Researchers cloned the HGH gene from a cDNA library and inserted it into E. coli cells by cloning it into a bacterial vector.


Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:

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