« Back to Glossary Index

a “biologic” or “biological drug” is a pharmaceutical drug that something living helped make. These days, biologics are often made using biotechnology, such as genetically engineered and recombinantly-produced proteins (such as antibodies – all those drug names ending in -ab are antibodies and thus biologics). Recombinant expression of proteins involves putting the gene for the protein into living cells such as bacteria or insect cells and having those cells make the protein. So the protein products are thus biologics. Biologics existed even before that technology, because biologics can be purified directly from the natural source. For example, insulin is made recombinantly these days, but it was originally purified from animal pancreases. Some biologics are still made “naturally” – for example, botox is a toxin made by some bacteria and they naturally make it “for us”!

biological drug