Fermentation is a process wherein microbes are used to produce biological substances.
One common usage of it is the production of alcohol from molasses which is done since ages.
Even today this is the only process to produce alcohol in large quantities.
The fermentation process is very economical and easy method to produce biologically related substances in bulk.
The substance formed is also exact unlike in synthesis and also does not require massive filtration to separate the active content.
Also, the process can be automated to produce a continuous supply of desired product.
Due to these benefits, fermentation is used to produce vital substance required as medicine.
How is Fermentation used in Medicine Today:
1. In manufacture of insuli
2. In production of vaccines
3. In production of interferon
4. For the production of vitamin B12.
5. For the production of enzymes.
1. For the production of insulin: The people who are diabetic especially the Type-I nature, require daily administration of insulin. Previously the insulin necessary was obtained from animals like pigs and buffalo for the purpose.
But due to growth in population and also the disease incidence, the demand for insulin has become several folds. So to maintain a steady supply of insulin to the market, fermentation technology is used. Here, E-coli bacteria which of genetically modified to produce human insulin is employed. This bacteria has a small life cycle of only a few minutes to grow and multiply. So copious amounts of insulin are produced by fermentation. The two amino acid strands of insulin are obtained separately which are sealed to produce insulin.
2. Vaccines: Vaccines are prophylactic substances used to prevent infections. There are different types of vaccines like living, dead and also genetically engineered vaccines.
rRDNA technology produces the genetically engineered vaccines like hepatitis-B by employing fermentation process.
3. Interferons: These are the substances which are used as antiviral drugs.
They are substances which prevent the virus from binding to the host cell and also growing inside it.
4. Production of vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is a very complex and bulky molecule. It would be complicated and time-consuming to synthesize it in step by step manner by chemical processes. However, it can be readily manufactured in a short time by fermentation technology.
Also, the product is pure without any contamination. It is widely used for the treatment of anemia.
5. Industrial enzymes: Fermentation produces enzymes needed for the industrial application, i.e., in large scale.
A) Protease an enzymes used for medical treatments of inflammation are produced from fungus Aspergillus niger.
B) Enzymes amylases which are used to enhance digestion.