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Genetic Engineering – The Technology of 21st Century
Genetic engineering today is not a new issue for the world. Every day in newspapers, televisions, magazines new productions of genetic engineering are noticed. Genetic engineering can be described as the practice of manipulating an organism’s genes in order to produce a desired outcome. Other technologies that fall under this category are: recombinant DNA technology, genetic modification (GM) and gene splicing.
The roots of genetic engineering are linked to ancient times. The Bible also gives us a better understanding of genetic engineering where they mention the birth of the chosen people. Modern genetic engineering began in 1973 when Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen used enzymes to cut a bacterial plasmid and insert another strand of DNA into the gap created. Both bits of DNA were taken from the same type of bacteria. This step became a milestone in the history of genetic engineering. As recently as 1990, a young child with a very poor immune system received gene therapy in which some of his white blood cells were manipulated by a gene that was inserted into his blood so that his immune system could function properly.
Geneticists hope that with more knowledge and experimentation, it will be possible in the future to create “engineered” organisms. This will lead to new innovations, possibly with cultured bacteria to clean up chemical spills, or fruit trees that bear different fruits at different times. In this way new types of organisms and plants can be developed.
Genetic engineering requires three elements: the gene to be transferred, the host cell into which the gene is inserted, and the vector to facilitate transfer. First, the genes needed to be manipulated have to be ‘separated’ from the first DNA helix. Then, the genes are ‘inserted’ into the cell as a plasmid. Third, the transfer medium (ie, plasmid) is inserted into the organism intended to be transformed. The next step is organ transformation in which many different methods including DNA guns, bacterial transformation, and viral insertion can be used to apply the transplant medium to the new body. Finally, the separation stage occurs, where the genetically modified organism (GMO) is separated from other organisms that have not been successfully modified.
Genetic engineering has affected every aspect of life whether it is agriculture, food and manufacturing industry, other commercial industries etc. we will discuss them one by one.
1. Agriculture Applications
With the help of genetic engineering it will be possible to prepare clones of genetically engineered plants and animals of agricultural importance that have desirable characteristics. This will increase the nutritional value of plant and animal food. Genetic engineering may lead to the development of plants that will fix nitrogen directly from the atmosphere, instead of from expensive fertilizers. The creation of nitrogen-fixing bacteria that can live in the roots of seed plants will make field fertilization unnecessary. Producing such self-feeding crops can bring about a new green revolution. Genetic engineering can create microorganisms which can be used for biological control of diseases, insect pests, etc.
2. Environmental Resources
Originally modified microorganisms can be used for the degradation of wastes, in sewage, oil spills, etc. Scientists of the General Institute of Technology of New York have added plasmids to create strains of Pseudomonas that can break down many hydrocarbons and is now used to remove them. oil spill. It can reduce 60% of crude oil, while the four parents from which it has broken down only a few compounds.
3. Industrial equipment
Industrial applications of recombinant DNA technology include the production of substances of commercial importance in industry and pharmacy, the improvement of existing fermentation processes, and the production of proteins from waste.
Among the medical applications of genetic engineering are the production of hormones, vaccines, interferon; enzymes, antibodies, antibiotics and vitamins, and in multi-therapy for some hereditary diseases.
The hormone insulin is currently produced commercially by extracting it from the pancreas of cows and pigs. About 5% of patients, however, suffer from allergic reactions to animal insulin produced due to a slight difference in its structure from human insulin. Human insulin genes are implanted into bacteria which, therefore, become capable of producing insulin. Bacterial insulin is identical to human insulin, because it is encoded by human genes.
Inoculating an animal with an inactivated virus causes it to make antibodies against the virus. These antibodies protect the animal against infection by the same virus by binding to the virus. Phagocytic cells then remove the virus. Immunity is produced by growing disease-causing organisms in large numbers. This process is often dangerous or impossible. Also, there are problems in making the vaccine safe.
Interferons are virus-causing proteins produced by host cells. They appear to be the body’s first line of defense against viruses. The interferon response is much faster than the antibody response. Interferon is anti-viral in action. A type of interferon may work. Against many different viruses, ie not a specific virus. It is, however, species specific. Interferon from one body does not confer protection against viruses to other body cells. Interferon provides natural protection against such viral diseases as hepatitis and influenza. It also appears to be effective against certain types of cancer, especially breast and breast cancer. Natural interferon is obtained from human blood cells and other tissues. It is produced in very small quantities.
The enzyme urokinase, used to dissolve blood clots, is produced by genetically engineered organisms.
One of the purposes of genetic engineering is the production of hybridomas. These are long-lived cells that can produce antibodies for use against disease.
5. Genetic disorders for treating hereditary diseases
Early genetic modification experiments involved transferring genes in vitro into isolated cells or into bacteria. Gene transfer experiments have been extended to living animals.
6. Understand the principles of life
Genetic engineering technologies have been used for obtaining basic knowledge about – biological processes such as gene structure and expression, chromosome mapping, cell differentiation and integration of viral genomes. This could lead to a better understanding of the genetics of plants and animals, and ultimately of humans.
7. Human resources
One of the most exciting potential applications of genetic engineering involves the treatment of genetic disorders. Medical scientists now know about three thousand[3,000]a disease that occurs due to a mistake in a person’s DNA. Conditions such as sickle-cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s chorea, cystic fibrosis, and Lesch-Nyhan syndrome result from the loss, incorrect insertion, or change of a nitrogenous base in a DNA molecule. Genetic engineering makes it possible for scientists to provide individuals who lack a gene with perfect copies of that gene. The idea for human nature is still waiting to be discovered on earth. Genetic engineering has benefited infertile couples.
The safe guards of genetic engineering
General safeguards for recombinant DNA testing are outlined below:
1. Genes coding for the production of toxins or antibiotics should not be introduced into bacteria without proper precautions
2. Animal genes, animal viruses or tumor viruses should not be reproduced into bacteria without proper precautions.
3. Laboratory facilities should be equipped to reduce the ‘possibility’ of escape of pathogenic microorganism by using microbial cabinets, hoods, negative pressure chambers, special traps on flow lines and vacuum lines.
4. The use of microorganisms that capture important ecological resources such as hot springs and salt water should be encouraged. If such organisms escape they will not be able to survive.
5. The use of non-conjugative plasmids as plasmid cloning vectors is recommended as such plasmids are capable of promoting their own transmission by conjugation.
The dangers of genetic engineering
Recombinant DNA research involves potential risks. Genetic engineering can create dangerous new forms of life, either accidentally or intentionally. Host microorganisms can acquire harmful characteristics as a result of insertion of foreign genes. If disease-causing microorganisms created as a result of genetic manipulation escape from laboratories, they can cause many diseases. For example, Streptococcus, the bacteria that causes rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, strep throat and kidney disease, has no reaction to penicillin in nature. If a plasmid carrying a gene for penicillin resistance is introduced into a Streptococcus it will confer penicillin resistance on the bacterium. Penicillin will now become ineffective against the resistant organism.
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