In inheritance from the USSR, Kazakhstan received a strong biological scientific infrastructure. There was also a few production sites such as the “Biomedpreparat” and the “Progress” plants in Stepnogorsk city (which at that time were the largest plants in the USSR), the biocombinat in Almaty, “Khimpharm” in Shymkent city and others. These production sites were oriented toward the large-scale consumer needs of the entire USSR and as well its military needs.
In Kazakhstan, biotechnology is considered to be a strategic field of scientific development and research. In accordance with the Strategy of industrial and innovative development of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2015-2019, biotechnology is also defined as a priority area for the development of the state economy. It is expected that commercialization of biotechnological projects should contribute to the socio-economic, scientific and technical development of the country.
Priority areas of biotechnology in Kazakhstan are associated with high technologies and competitive products for health, agriculture, and environmental protection and are represented by biomedicine, bioecology as well as by the food and processing industry, mining and processing of minerals.
The following spheres of fundamental biotechnological sciences are focused on:
- functional genomics and proteomics,
- newest cellular technologies in medicine,
- biodiversity, ecology and geochemical activity of microorganisms in the biosphere,
- solution to gene therapy problems,
- engineering enzymology.
Among applied biotechnological sciences, the following spheres are receiving special attention:
- genetical and computer technologies for design of new generation vaccines and medicines,
- functional food products
- development of diagnostic DNA chips,
- technology for creating new generation antibiotics,
- production of DNA markers for breeding animals and plants, implementation of high biotechnologies in plant growing .
For example, in the health sector, the following drugs were elaborated locally: probiotic “Bifidumbacterin”, dietary supplements “Dimicil” and “Biolact”, “Fibrospray” for the treatment of burns. For agriculture, new varieties of wheat and potatoes and fodder additives have been brought into the market, and for ecological needs – biological oil destructors which are used to clean oil-polluted soils, for mining – bioleaching of uranium, copper and gold.
Kazakhstan’s share in the global biotechnology market in terms of revenues is less than 0.001% with over 90% of biotechnology products in the country imported.