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.


GMO's are genetically modified organisms such as draught- or pesticide-resistant crops.

Green revolution

Green revolution describes advances in genetics, petrochemicals, and machinery that resulted in a rapid increase in crop productivity toward the end of the 20th century.

Growth factor

Growth factors are serum proteins that stimulate cell division upon binding to a cell-surface receptor.

Growth phase

The growth phase of a bacterial culture is indicated graphically by a rapid increase of viable cells versus time.

Saphenous vein

There are two saphenous veins, the great and the small, which serve as the principal veins running superficially (near the surface) up the leg. These vessels are used as bypass grafts in coronary artery bypass surgery.


Sarcoma is a malignancy that arises from deep body tissue, such as bone, muscle, or fibrous tissue.

Secondary endpoint

A secondary endpoint is an additional clinical or biological outcome that can be assessed in analysis of a clinical trial. Although supportive and potentially important, these endpoints are not the primary experimental question proposed for a clinical protocol.

Secondary structures

Secondary structures describe the regular folding of a protein in repeating patterns.


Seroconversion is the change of a serologic test from negative to positive, indicating the development of antibodies in response to infection or immunization.

Serologic test

A serologic (serology) test is a blood test detecting the presence of antibodies to a particular antigen, such as the HIV test.


Seroprotection is the production of antibodies designed for the protection of a host against infection as generated by a vaccine.


Serotype is an immunologically defined variant of a microorganism; one that bears a unique epitope on its surface.


Serum describes the liquid phase that remains in a blood sample after blood has clotted.

Serum sickness

Serum sickness is a type III hypersensitivity response to the injection of large amounts of antigen caused by the presence of immune complexes in the tissues.


Sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the rectum and lower colon using a lighted flexible tube inserted into the rectum. Screening tests for colon cancer as well as several diagnostic tests including sigmoidoscopy is generally performed in the doctor's office.

Sinus node

Sinus node is the heart's natural pacemaker. The sinus node is a cluster of cells situated in the upper part of the wall of the right atrium. The electrical impulses are generated there. (The sinus node is also called the sinoatrial node).

Small molecule drug

Small molecule drugs are so-called because they are smaller than protein drugs, and in general are suitable for oral administration with low cost of goods and simplified manufacturing process as compared to proteins, which must be given intravenously and are more costly to manufacture.


Smallpox is a highly contagious and frequently fatal viral disease characterized by a biphasic fever and a distinctive skin rash that (if the patient survived) left pock marks in its wake. It was so named because the pocks were small and the disease was seen as less than the "great pox... [ read more ]


A spasm is a brief, automatic jerking movement.

Stem Cells

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells capable of becoming specialized cells such as blood cells, immune cells or tissue.


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