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.


Stroke is the sudden death of some brain cells due to lack of oxygen when the blood flow to the brain is impaired by blockage or rupture of an artery to the brain.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage

Subarachnoid hemorrhage describes bleeding within the head into the space between two membranes that surround the brain. This condition can lead to severe neurological deficits.


A sublingual medication is a type of lozenge that is dissolved under the tongue. Rapid blood levels occur, mostly due to the bypass of the hepatic metabolism, through this route of administration.


A substrate is a macromolecule or compound upon which an enzyme acts.

Supplemental NDA (sNDA)

A supplemental NDA is documentation submitted to the FDA on a drug substance or product that is already the subject of an approved NDA. Supplements may be submitted for a variety of reasons, such as labeling changes, a new or expanded clinical indication, or a new dosage from presentation.

Sympathetic tone

Sympathetic tone is the "fight or flight" response, triggered by the adrenal gland releasing chatecholamines. It prepares the body for action by increasing heart rate, contractility, and blood pressure. Blood flow is increased to the skeletal muscles and decreased to the viscera. Renin... [ read more ]


A synapse is the junction between two nerve cells, or between a nerve cell and a muscle or gland cell. This site is where electrical nerve impulses are converted to chemical signals for transmission to the adjacent ceil.

Syncope (fainting)

Syncope describes a partial or complete loss of consciousness, or fainting, with interruption of awareness of oneself and one's surroundings. Syncope is due to a temporary reduction in blood flow and therefore a shortage of oxygen to the brain. Often the cause of a given syncopal event will... [ read more ]


Syphilis is a parasitic sexually transmitted disease caused by a spirochete. A single dose of penicillin will cure a person who has had syphilis for less than a year. Larger doses are needed to cure someone who has had it for longer than a year. For people who are allergic to penicillin, other... [ read more ]

Systematic chemotherapy

Systematic chemotherapy is a cancer treatment using anticancer drugs that affects the patient's entire system in an effort to kill all cancer cells.


Systole is the part of the cardiac cycle when ventricles are contracting.

T cell

A T cell is a small lymphocyte (white cell) that circulates through the bloodstream helping to defend the body against foreign invaders.

T wave

A T wave is the next deflection in the electrocardiogram following QRS, representing ventricular repolarization.


Tachycardia is a rapid heart rate, usually defined as greater than 100 beats per minute. Tachycardia may be temporary (as in exercise) and/or desirable, as in states with low blood pressure, but the goal is generally to restore rates to the normal level of 60-100 beats per minute.

Telecrine function

Telecrine function is the effect of a hormone to cells distant from its site of secretion.


Telomerase is an enzyme that adds TTAGGG nucleotide repeats to the ends of chromosomal DNAs to compensate for losses that occur with each round of DNA replication. While absent in normal cells, telomerase is present in cells such as stem cells, which are known to divide without senescence.

Termination factor

A termination factor is a protein that assists in the termination of RNA polymerase transcription.

Terminator codon

A terminator codon is a polynucleotide triplet that signals the limit, at the C-terminus, of protein synthesis.

Tertiary structure

Tertiary structure describes the unique three-dimensional structure of a particular protein or nucleic acid.


Tetanus is an often fatal infectious disease caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani, which usually enters the body through a puncture, cut, or open wound. Tetanus leads to profound painful spasms of muscles, including "locking" of the jaw. Prophylactic vaccines are available, which... [ read more ]


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