What are Biologics?

biotechnology fundamentals Aug 18, 2023
What are Biologics

Biologics, in the field of biotechnology, refer to a class of medical products that are derived from living organisms or contain components of living organisms. These products are used for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes, and they are distinct from traditional small-molecule drugs, which are chemically synthesized.

Biologics are often large and complex molecules, such as proteins, nucleic acids, or cells, that are produced through biological processes. They can be used to treat a wide range of diseases, including autoimmune disorders, cancers, infectious diseases, and genetic disorders.

Common Types of Biologics:

Some common types of biologics include:

Monoclonal Antibodies:

These are proteins that can target specific molecules in the body, such as proteins on the surface of cancer cells or immune system cells. Monoclonal antibodies are used for various medical purposes, including cancer treatment, autoimmune disease management, and infectious disease prevention.


Vaccines are biologics that stimulate the immune system to produce an immune response against specific pathogens, helping to prevent diseases. They can be made from weakened or inactivated forms of pathogens, pieces of pathogens, or genetic material from pathogens.

Recombinant Proteins:

These are proteins that are produced by introducing the DNA that codes for the protein into host cells, which then produce the protein. Recombinant proteins can be used as therapeutic agents, such as insulin for diabetes or growth factors for stimulating cell growth.

Gene Therapies:

Gene therapies involve introducing genetic material into a patient's cells to treat genetic disorders or modify cellular function. These therapies hold promise for treating diseases caused by single gene mutations.

Cellular Therapies:

Cellular therapies involve using living cells, such as stem cells or immune cells, to treat various conditions. For example, stem cell therapies can be used to regenerate damaged tissues, and adoptive T cell therapies can harness the immune system to target cancer cells.

Blood Products:

Biologics like blood clotting factors, immune globulins, and erythropoietin are used to treat various blood disorders and conditions.

Biologics are regulated by health authorities, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Due to their complexity, the development, production, and quality control of biologics are often more intricate than those of traditional small-molecule drugs. As a result, biologics play a crucial role in modern medicine by providing innovative treatment options for various diseases.