What does 'bio-technology' mean?


The term comes from Fernando Silva da Bioteqnolojo, a 16th century venture capitalist who sold shares in the Fountain of Youth to Madrid laborers. Not buying it? Okay, biotechnology is a term that first appeared in the 1970s to describe the use of biological techniques for creating commercially useful products, mostly protein-based pharmaceuticals. One of the first successful biotech companies, Genentech, found a way to produce insulin using vats filled with anaerobic bacteria, instead of the more costly method based on inorganic chemistry.

That's what biotech meant yesterday; what does it mean today?

The term has become so general in common usage that any biomedical startup or pharmaceutical giant can claim it's a biotech, and hardly anyone would object.

I got a good stock tip on a biotech stock. Should I sell the house and invest?

Only if you have another house. Biotechnology stocks are extremely...

But I'm a scientist, so I know what's going to work and what isn't


The directors of all the now-bankrupt biotech companies were also scientists. Some biotechs fill their boards with Nobel Prize winners and crank out lots of good science articles. But they can fail to create a profit-generating product, which is all that matters when it comes to stock prices.

Is the biotechnology industry doing well these days?

Like most of the rest of the stock market, biotechnology stocks have performed reasonably well over the last year. As of May 20, The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index was up 15.7% over the last 12 months, which is almost exactly the same increase as the broader market, as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

- Sam Jaffe

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