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Role of Microbiology in the Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Cosmetic Industries


12/23/2009 1:15:30 PM

Role of Microbiology in the Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Cosmetic Industries By Biospace.com

Overview

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms such as bacteria, protozoa, fungi and similar organisms that can't be seen with the naked eye. The need to study these minute organisms started when scientists discovered the association of microbes to specific diseases. The roles of microbiology on the advances in the healthcare industry, especially in pharmaceutical and medical industry have led to great discoveries, from vaccines to devices. The growth of cosmetic industries also paralleled microbiological innovations, which in fact, paved the way to the study of cosmetic microbiology.

Significance

By nature, our cells fight microbes that enter our body and this is commonly exhibited by pus formation and inflammation of wounds. Macrophages play an important role in immune system because they are capable of ingesting microbes that enter our body through open wounds. However, microbes could adapt and mutate rapidly, which results to opportunistic infectious diseases, such as HIV. On the contrary, microbes can also help us in ways like the way the "good bacteria" lactobacillus functions in our digestive system.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Understanding the principles of microbiology and human cell mechanisms allows pharmacists to discover antimicrobial drugs that would prevent an escalating number of communicable diseases. Pharmacists and microbiologists work synergistically to ensure that drug therapies target the opportunistic microbes without harming its human host. Another important role in pharmaceuticals is the use of microbes for the medically important studies, such as Bacteriorhodopsin (figure 2 - adapted from Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry 5th edition), a protein from the plasma membrane of Halobacterium salinarum.

Medical Devices

Microbiology plays a significant role in medical devices, such as fluorescent fusion, which are used for fast and precise detection of pathogens in tissue samples. It is a technology for carrying out immunofluorescence studies that may be applied to find specific cells in complex biological systems.

Cosmetic Microbiology

According to International Microbiology, microbial contamination of cosmetic products is a matter of great importance to the industry and it can become a major cause of both product and economic losses. Moreover, the contamination of cosmetics can result in them being converted into products hazardous for consumers. The water and nutrients present in cosmetics make them susceptible to microbial growth, although only a few cases of human injury due to contaminated cosmetics have been reported. More often, microorganisms are the cause of organoleptic alterations, such as offensive odors, and changes in viscosity and color.

For more information, please click on the following sources:
International Microbiology
American Pharmaceutical Review
Cosmetic Microbiology: A Practical Handbook

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