Jordan: Status and Future Prospects of BiotechnologyDocument Transcript
Jordan: Status and Future Prospects
Moh’d M. Ajlouni and H. Malkawi
iotechnology is considered to be a frontier biological nitrogen fixation (BNF), and in vitro
area offering a new technological base for selection for salt tolerance.
the provision of solutions to some of
mankind’s problems. This technological base in- Current Status
volves interactions amongst people, microorgan-
isms, biomass, and industry, underscoring the Jordanian universities have covered research and
utilization of renewable resources with a low development (R&D) fields in biotechnology, in
environmental impact and high regenerative the following activities:
capacity. • Embryo transfer in animals
Biotechnology has produced new products and • Early diagnosis using monoclonal antibodies
processes in a number of economic sectors includ- • Applied microbiology
ing agriculture, food processing, chemical and • Biogas
pharmaceutical industries, pesticides, detergents, • Single cell protein
feed stocks, recycling, and waste treatment. • Enzymes and antibiotics
Biotechnology has advanced rapidly in indus- • Plant growth inhibitors
trial countries. Jordan still lags behind because • Natural products
of the lack of: • Cloning
• Major funding to establish laboratories and to • Protein solvent concentration
have the needed infrastructure and facilities • Bioreaction
• A national strategy for biotechnology and its • Gene isolation
applications • Biological nitrogen fixation.
• Know-how at the technical level Most of the activities are in the field of natural
• Experienced scientists, many of whom go to products, early diagnosis using monoclonal anti-
the industrial countries bodies, applied microbiology in food, and biogas
• Insufficient collaboration with international production. Antibiotics, growth regulators, em-
institutions and agencies that are involved in bryo transfer in animals, bioreaction, and biologi-
biotechnology development. cal nitrogen fixation are all considered important.
Despite these major shortcomings, Jordan In one of the surveys conducted among the
has made some progress in biotechnology researchers working in biotechnology, the respon-
projects for research and development. Projects dents identified areas of importance for Jordan
have been undertaken by university laborato- (Table 1). The absence of some fields such as
ries, research institutions, and private compa- insulin and interferon production, separation
nies in the following fields: plant tissue culture technology, process development, developing
and basic biotechnology research (in medicine, equipment and biosensors, which are all consid-
106 Agricultural Biotechnology and the Poor
Table 1 Research areas specified by Private industry is pursuing R&D in the fol-
biotechnology researchers working in lowing areas: tissue culture, biofertilizers, mono-
Jordanian universities clonal antibodies, production of pesticides,
Field No. of researchers developing some equipment used in biotechnol-
ogy, and yeast production. Future projects
Amino acid sequence determination 2 planned include enzyme production, veterinary
Applied microbiology 8 drugs, and laboratory equipment.
Biochemical engineering 4 Current and future areas, in addition to those
Biological response modifiers 1
Bioreactor modeling 2
considered of a great interest to researchers and
Environmental engineering 3 technologists in the industrial sector, are given in
Eukaryotic molecular genetics 1 Table 2.
Gene mapping , transfer, and synthesis 3 There are many common interests between the
Hormone synthesis 2 industrial sector and Jordanian universities in
Hybridoma technology 4 important activities such as tissue culture, vac-
Molecular genetics 4
Molecular immunology 4
cine production, monoclonal antibodies and ap-
Molecular modeling 1 plied microbiology, single cell protein, and
Monoclonal antibodies 8 enzyme production.
Plasmid vector fusion 3 The industrial sector, however, highlights its
Process engineering 1 interest in environmental engineering, process
Protein engineering 4 engineering in industries and its improvements,
Recombinant DNA technology 4
Single cell protein 6
and other areas. This results from their sense of
Enzymes 6 the importance of industrial production over the
Tissue culture 14 academic research which may not result in any
Vaccine production 10 direct products or goods.
Viral molecular genetics 1
ered to be important, clearly reflects the absence A recent survey on constraints to the applications
of scientific specialization and implies shortages of biotechnology in Jordan identified the follow-
in these fields. Researchers have also shown a ing issues:
willingness to work as a group with common con- • Lack of financing is the most important restric-
cerns to develop their research programs. tion in universities and institutions in the pri-
Table 2 Current, future, and essential biotechnology research in the industrial private sector
Current activities Future activities Essential activities
Tissue culture Enzyme production Amino acid sequence determination
Natural fertilizer Veterinary drugs Applied microbiology
Monoclonal antibodies Scientific laboratory equipment Biochemical engineering
Pesticides Bioreactor modeling
Scientific equipment evolution Environmental engineering
Yeast production Gene mapping, transfer, and synthesis
Single cell protein
Jordan: Status and Future Prospects of Biotechnology 107
vate sector (over 40 percent in the survey). problems. There are many drug companies, for
• Although financial support is a serious prob- example, but there is no common interest in
lem, researchers (15 percent) cited other prob- biotechnological R&D.
lems such as the shortage of professional • There is a prevalent lack of knowledge in both
technicians trained on advanced and special- private and governmental sectors about the
ized scientific equipment. Also of concern is importance of biotechnology adoption, and
the approvals procedures for biotechnological what is necessary to facilitate and expedite
research, especially the long time between pre- work in this field.
senting the proposal and its implementation.
The result is decreased interest of the re- Conclusions
searcher, who will often pursue other areas of
research. • Most biotechnology research activities are re-
• Another problem facing researchers in this area stricted to universities, with a limited activity
is the lack of consumable materials and rou- adopted by the private sector, which is repre-
tine ordering procedures. sented by some industrial institutions.
• It is important to mention that the right scien- • Universities pursue basic rather than applied
tific atmosphere is often absent for this type of science.
research activity; the importance of this type • The role of the private sector is limited in bio-
of research is not made clear; it is expensive; it technology R&D, mostly concentrating on im-
does not directly produce goods for people; proving and promoting current products or
and there is a lack of scientific literature and producing new ones.
other materials. This lack of public awareness • There is some fragmented biotechnology re-
of the importance of biotechnology research search in Jordan, mainly of conventional bio-
and the absence of scientific groups who will technology.
provide the necessary cooperation and techni- • There is limited cooperation between Jordan’s
cal assistance to the researcher were cited by universities and the private sector.
30 percent in the survey. Constraints and problems encountered by bio-
• University professors claim they do not have technology researchers at universities and in the
enough time to do their research, and the sys- private sector include:
tem itself does not allow the appointment of Universities: Technical and financial problems;
research staff. Professors in the universities lack of time for research by teaching professors;
should teach and do research at the same time, environment not conducive for research and in-
but because of the heavy teaching load, they novations; lack of public support for research;
cannot find enough time for research. The re- lack of specialized equipment and information;
search would be of an academic nature and not shortage of laboratory materials and spare parts,
applied research. and maintenance of scientific equipment.
• The industrial sector in this field is unable to Private Sector: Marketing problems; technical
compete with other international brand prod- production and its improvement, which limits the
ucts, especially at the beginning of the produc- concentration on R&D as a necessity for economic
tion and development processes. This results growth in these institutions; lack of appreciation
in reduced financial support. As a result, the by decisionmakers and the private companies on
industry prefers not to be involved in this ac- the role of biotechnology.
tivity, which requires that most of the prod- The following suggestions may help solve some
ucts be manufactured locally. The private of the problems and obstacles, and improve and
sector, therefore, concentrates on accumulat- develop biotechnology activities in Jordan in uni-
ing imported products and promoting them lo- versities, the private sector, and the public sector.
cally, or dealing in international products only.
• There is an additional problem regarding lack 1. Establish a biotechnology center to:
of cooperation among institutions in the same • Encourage biotechnology research ac-
field to reach common objectives and solve tivities and development
108 Agricultural Biotechnology and the Poor
• Create a suitable environment for re- 2. Supervise and link the various institutions
searchers doing biotechnology research by:
• Establish specialized and well equipped • Providing the requested technical sup-
laboratories port and finance for the researchers in
• Direct research into fields of interest in universities and the private sector
Jordan, which could be applied in indus- • Creating a connecting link among dif-
trial institutions ferent sectors to integrate information
• Encourage private sector research where and research between the private sec-
possible. tor and universities.