Biotechnology Dictionary

If you are in the business of biotech, the alphabet soup of similar-sounding or re-purposed terms can be quite confusing. Principle Point offers our biotech and medical dictionary of more than 1,000 terms, which will be updated periodically as needed. Please let us know if you think we should add a term or if an existing definition needs clarification.


Vascular means related to or containing blood vessels.


Vasoconstriction is the narrowing of the blood vessels, resulting from contraction of the muscular wall of the vessels. It is the opposite of vasodilation.


Vasodilation is the widening of blood vessels resulting from relaxation of the muscular wall of the vessels. What widens is actually the diameter of the interior (the lumen) of the vessel. It is the opposite of vasoconstriction.


Vasodilators are agents that relax the muscular walls of vessels and thereby increase blood flow. These agents are used in the management of hypertension and congestive heart failure.


Also known as antidiuretic hormone (ADH) or arginine vasopressin (AVP), this protein is secreted by the posterior pituitary and acts on the collecting ducts of the kidneys to cause them to reabsorb water, thereby concentrating the urine. ADH is also a vasoconstrictor. Its overall effect is to... [ read more ]


A vector is an agent used to carry new genes into cells. Plasmids currently are the biological vector of choice, though viruses and other biological vectors such as Agrobacterium tumefaciens bacteria or bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) are increasingly being used for this purpose. Non-... [ read more ]


A vein is a blood vessel that returns blood from the microvasculature to the heart. It is less elastic and thinner than an artery.


Venous means related to or involving the veins.


The ventricle is the two lower chambers of the heart which send blood into circulation. The left ventricle pumps blood into systemic circulation (tissues), whereas the right ventricle pumps the blood into pulmonary circulation (lungs).

Ventricular fibrillation (VF)

Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is a disorganized contraction of the ventricle that fails to effectively eject blood from the ventricle. During VF, the patient is unconscious and will die if emergency restoration or normal pulse and/or hemodynamic support is not provided.

Ventricular tachycardia (VT)

Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is an abnormal, accelerated ventricular rhythm with a rate of 150-200 beats per minute. Originated in the ventricle, VT appears as a wide complex rhythm on an electrocardiogram (ECG). It is an unstable rhythm that may result in fainting, low blood pressure, shock or... [ read more ]


Virulence is the degree or ability of a pathogenic organism to cause disease.


Virusess are minute, often highly contagious pathogens consisting of an inner core of genetic material, in the form of DNA or RNA, which is frequently surrounded by one or more protective shells (capsids). Retroviruses contain genetic information in the form of RNA, which can be transcribed into... [ read more ]

Washout period

A washout period in a clinical study is a time during which subjects receive no treatment for the indication under study and the effects of a pervious treatment are eliminated (or assumed to be eliminated).

Watson-Crick base pairs

Watson-Crick base pairs are the nucleobase pairings that compose a DNA double helix (i.e., adenine hydrogen-bonds with thymine and guanine hydrogen-bonds with cytosine).

White blood cells (WBC)

White blood cells (WBCs) circulate in the blood and lymphatic system and harbor in the lymph glands and spleen. WBCs are part of the immune system responsible for both directly (T cells and macrophages) and indirectly (B cells producing antibodies) attacking foreign invaders of the body. White... [ read more ]


X-rays (or, X-radiation) are high-energy radiation with waves shorter than those of visible light. X-rays are used in low doses for making images that help to diagnose diseases and in high doses to treat cancer.


A xenobiotic is a synthetic compound that does not naturally occur and is thus believed to be resistant to environmental degradation.


Xenotransplantation is the placement of animal organs into humans.

Yellow fever

Yellow fever is an acute febrile illness of tropical regions caused by a group B arbovirus that is transmitted by the bite from a mosquito. Symptoms include jaundice, black vomit and the absence of urination. Vaccination is available for travelers to endemic areas.


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