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Are there applications of Biophysics in Biotechnology?

  1. Sep 24, 2016 #1
    You know, Physics has such a big impact on every science and engineering. But in case of Biotechnology I didn't find anyone on Google. Isn't that weird? Advanced Quantum Mechanics in things such as Engineering of DNA, Cells and stuff may be very worth, but now I'm not sure. I will appreciate if you guys could help me :)
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  3. Sep 24, 2016 #2


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    Several of the newest DNA sequencing technologies (e.g. single-molecule real time sequencing, nanopore sequencing, ion seminconductor sequencing) grew out of tools originally developed by biophysicists. Many tools commonly used in biology and biotechnology research (various types of light and electron microscopes, x-ray crystallography, NMR/MRI, electrophysiology, etc.) originated from the physics community.

    Advanced quantum mechanics is often not applicable to biological systems because you do not need quantum mechanics to accurately model the behavior of most biological systems. One are where quantum mechanics is likely to be helpful is in engineering new enzymes as quantum mechanics is required to model the chemical reactions that enzymes catalyze.
  4. Sep 24, 2016 #3
    Yes, I know almost every technology has the very basics on some discovery in physics and chemistry. X-ray, microscopes... But, I rather meant if Biophysics had an important, direct job on Biotechnology. I don't think an electron microscope is a product of biophysics, but a product of engineering based on Optic Physics non-relationed with biophysics. The same may be applied to those engineering producs, Xray, electrophysiology... May there be other Applications of Biophysics into Bioengineering?

    But those are just my reflections. I don't know if I'm right or wrong. I'll appreciate your comments :)
  5. Sep 24, 2016 #4
    Depends on your definitions of 'biotechnology' and 'biophysics'. Many equations used in engineering aren't physics equations, as they are approximations of common engineering systems. And many engineering jobs you can do without ever calculating something.

    This is even more true for biotechnology. Biology has a lot of complexity and it is often not suitable to compute things from basic principles. Furthermore, biology has a larger range of tolerances for parameters. This in inherent to living systems, as they have to deal with varying conditions. Change one parameter, and the system will adjust and act the same way. No need to fine tune a system like one would do in many engineering fields. So often there is no point in calculating. You can often just try and see if it works.

    Most calculations are chemical engineering calculations. There are many ways in which you can come into contact with actual biophysics when you are in biotech. But you don't have to know anything about the physics or the chemistry of NGS when you get some genome sequenced.

    Typical biophyiscs subjects are FRET, NMR of whole cells or tissues or metabolites, kinetics (auto)assembly of biopolymers, modeling biochemical reactions, gene networks, studying biomolecules that interact with photons in special ways, diffusion inside cells, all kinds of physical properties of cells biomolecules.

    They usually have nothing to do with bioengineering, as that is usually top down, and usually nothing to do with traditional biotechnology, as that has to do with traditional engineering.
  6. Sep 24, 2016 #5


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    One important job for biophysicists in the biotech industry is as structural biologists—using tools such as x-ray crystallography, NMR, or cryo-electron microscopy to determine the structures of biological molecules. This work is often key to understanding and improving the proteins being studied or the drugs that bind to the proteins. Computational biologists also have a role here in modeling proteins where structural information may not be available. Another area is bioinformatics—taking the output from high-throughput experiments (like sequencing data) and being able to do the appropriate quality control and analysis.
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