The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything for good. Gone are the days when we could walk out the door without having to put a face mask on. However, it has also brought with it many opportunities, especially in the field of biotechnology. The fact is that we have yet to realize the true potential of biotechnology.

To fight the virus, it is important to invest in biotechnology and development. Government agencies and businesses have spent close to $2 trillion on research and development related to health. It includes the taming of HIV, sequencing of the human genome, rolling out gene therapies, immunology for cancer, providing a cure for hepatitis C, and much more. However, the full power of the biotech century has not been channeled. There is a need for a deeper understanding of human biology to come up with new treatments to provide a solution for just about everything.

On the other hand, investment in drug development has been on the rise for quite some time now. There is yet to be an answer for why scientific advancement has been unable to lower the cost of drug development or increase its pace. Besides, the following hypotheses have been proven to be not mutually exclusive.

  • Misdirected or excessive regulation has slowed down biotech innovation.
  • The profit motive has diverted bio-pharmaceuticals from focusing on researching what is truly important.
  • The intricacies of medicine are more complicated than first anticipated.

Now that we have covered the current situation of biotechnology, it is important to take a look at how certain achievements have been made during Covid-19. One of the achievements that need to be discussed includes cell-free protein expression.

What Is Cell-Free Protein Expression?

In the simplest of words, cell-free protein expression refers to a platform technology which combines translation and transcription to rapidly synthesize the desired protein products. It does so at a huge scale and reliably. When proteins are directly produced from DNA templates, it results in cell-free reactions which offer increased flexibility for expressing the most difficult of proteins. It helps prevent the need for developing and growing unique cell lines to produce new protein designs. It does not get better than this.

Diving deeper, the open reaction environment for cell-free reaction allows for greater flexibility which ensures direct manipulation and control of the protein. It consists of all the substrates, bio-molecules, and machinery. Thus, it helps alleviate key constraints of the cellular toxicity, secretion systems, proteases, and the like.

As cell viability concerns are removed, it enables all the cell-free reaction components to be directed towards the synthesis of one product. The cell-free protein expression can be easily customized. It has allowed for the production of a variety of proteins including cytotoxic, glycoproteins, cytokines, enzymes, and IgGs proteins. It includes proteins that would be difficult to product through other means due to the toxicity or complexity.

Drug development timelines are also accelerated by cell-free protein expressions. This makes the development extremely useful in current times. Most of the rate-liming steps that are connected with mammalian cell expression cell expression like cellular growth, cell line development, genomic integration, and plasmid cloning are avoided by the platform. When combined, the improvements help shrink the amount of time it takes for producing a batch of protein.

The fact is that protein production in cell-free first started out during the 1960s when Matthaei and Nirenberg deciphered their first genetic code using cell-free synthesis. This led to the discovery of template RNA for protein synthesis. Since then, the cell-free protein synthesis has expanded considerably because of the efforts of the field leaders.

The components of cell-free reaction have been optimized and the methods have improved significantly. Cell-free systems are developed for various organisms. They are fully scalable and customizable.

High-Throughput Synthesis

Cell-free protein expression has allowed for a high-throughput screening platform. It enables automated, highly-parallel, and robust protein synthesis for increasing unique protein sequences. This helps with adaption of multi-well plates. Individual enzymes are produced by the mixing of lysates. The platform enhances the high-throughput nature of the platform. This improves the ability for using linear DNA templates.

Hard-To-Express Proteins

Hard-to-express proteins can finally be manipulated through cell-free protein expression. Flexibility is possible with the help of the system. The cell-free protein synthesis helps make production easily attainable for novel protein formats.

Other Opportunities

Biotechnology is experiencing a time of greater opportunities. The research community has invested heavily in finding the right solution for eliminating the disease.

Use of Plants

Humans have turned to plants for curing all sorts of diseases since the beginning of time. Active compounds found in plants have allowed for cures to be found. Wild plants are being investigated in hopes of finding new bioactive compounds. Plants help synthesize various molecules. Modern biotechnological tools can be used for tackling all sorts of issues.

Once the system has been developed, it would allow for the implementation of antigen production. For instance, lettuce is being used for testing oral immunization. Besides, since plants are easy to grow, it is possible to cater to the lack of sophisticated protein production methods. Therefore, large-scale solutions contribute to treating the global crisis. By pairing plant-based research with drug development, it is possible to come up with the best biotech solution. There is a lot that can be achieved through the collaboration of the two. It is only a matter of time until the solution is found. However, it is vital for more investment to be made in the field. It would allow for the ultimate answer.


The coronavirus pandemic has tested us in ways we never thought that we could handle. It has allowed us to try new ways to fight common problems. One of the ways through which the situation will be handled is by the use of biotechnology. It is expected to power the future. Hence, one needs to keep up with the latest biotech news to know everything that is going on. It will help make things easier.