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Genetically Modified Animals - Benefits to human race
Breeding of genetically modified animals has been remarkable both quantitatively and qualitatively for humans.

The discovery and the development of rDNA (recombinant DNA) technology and advancement in molecular cloning paved way for the creation of transgenic animals or the genetically modified animals. The transgenic animals are created by the super intelligence of humans by inserting a selected DNA carrying desirable trait into the gene sequence of selected animal, hence the name Transgenic, as they are the carriers of foreign gene.

Transgenic animals are developed by various techniques like embryonic stem cell transfer, microinjecting DNA, gene transfer using selective vectors and artificial liposome method. In embryonic stem cell transfer method, the embryonic stem cells (totipotent in nature) are harvested and maintained under in vitro condition. The desired gene to be transferred is injected into these embryonic stem cells and the genetically altered embryonic stem cell is injected into the blastocyst of the egg of the carrying mother (the selected animal). As a result, the baby of the animal comes with the characteristics of the inserted gene and hence called as the transgenic animal.

The transgenic animal developed by microinjecting DNA involves several steps. At first the desired DNA is injected into the pronucleus of the sperm in a fertilized egg and allowed to fuse and divide. This egg is implanted into the uterus of the selected animal (surrogate mother). The surrogate mother is kept ready by allowing to mate with its sterile counterpart in order to make the uterus very receptive for egg implantation. The resulting new offspring is a transgenic animal. The other methods involve use of vectors in DNA transfer and use of liposome, which carries the desired DNA, allows the DNA to enter the target cell by fusing with the cell. In recent times, the gene targeting and Zinc finger nuclease technology were identified as the advanced methods in creating a transgenic animal.

The list of animals subjected to this technology (development of transgenic animals) includes mice, rat, cow, goat, sheep, spider, rabbit, pig and fish and was found to be successful. The question ‘Why Transgenic Animals?’ is answered by the wide applications and benefits of Transgenic animals in serving human kind. The benefits of transgenic animals are well observed in the fields like pharmaceutical, medicine (drug development), agriculture, industries and in scientific research.

The mystery behind various genetical syndrome, chronic illness in humans is resolved by employing research on transgenic animals. For example, genetic syndrome due to lack of a specific gene or presence of a mutated gene is well understood by inserting the specific gene into animals, creating a transgenic animal and studying the animal. Also transgenic animals lead to the discovery of new drugs representing human diseases. One such example is the discovery of a drug called ATryn, a protein based drug derived from transgenic animal. The mutation or absence of a gene responsible for the synthesis of alfa antithrombin (prevents blood clots) in human results in formation of blood clots which is life threatening and is treated by the drug ATryn obtained from transgenic animals. These animals are also used for studying the drug safety, a step in drug development process. Organ transplantation could be the only life savior method for people suffering from various end stage organ failure. Xeno transplantation (organ transplant from animals to humans) is a success behind breeding transgenic pigs. Also the genetically modified animals diversify the research options in the field of gene therapy, a breakthrough in human medicine.

The breeding of genetically modified animals in animal husbandry is remarkable both quantitatively and qualitatively with the increase in milk production, faster growth rate and resistance to diseases. Coming to the industrial application of genetically modified animals, the research by two Canadian scientists in 2001 is a classic example. In their research, they isolated desired gene from a specific spider species and inserted it into a goat with a goal to manufacture silk. As a result thin silk strands were derived from the body of the transgenic goat. The application of rDNA technology in creating genetically engineered microorganisms poses wide industrial application.

Besides all the advantages and applications of transgenic animals, the ethics behind using another life form, altering its gene sequence and changing its natural trait just for the beneficial of human race is highly questionable.
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Animal pharming is the newly evolving field of genetic engineering which deals with the use of transgenic animals in the production of Pharma products (Bio Therapeutics) for treating various human diseases. Listed below are some of the transgenic animals and their application in pharmaceutical research.

Transgenic Mice: First transgenic mouse was developed in the year 1974. Genetically modified mice are employed as models in various research studies carried out in order to find cure for human diseases like cardiac problems, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and age related disorders.

Transgenic pigs: Xenotransplantation, Factor 8 and factor 9 , Tissue plasminogen activator, genetically engineered enviro pigs with the newly developed ability to generate the enzyme phytase by the salivary glands which in turn digests the phosphorous present in its feed thus making its excreta a eco friendly manure and hence the name “Enviro Pigs”. Research is going on to develop a protein based surgical bandage from transgenic pigs.

Transgenic sheep: Alpha I Anti Trypsin(emphysema), CFTR(Cystic fibrosis), Factor 8 and Factor 9(Hemophilia), Human protein C(Thrombosis)

Transgenic Goat: Human protein C and anti thrombin 3 against thrombosis, glutamic acid decarboxylase for Type I diabetes, Pro 542 to treat HIV infection and monoclonal antibodies to develop vaccines. Also extraction of spider silk like protein from transgenic goat’s milk proves to be a mile stone. The anticoagulant drug Atryn holds the credential of being the first bio Pharma approved by FDA in the year 2009.

Transgenic Cow: The bio therapeutics derived from transgenic cows includes alpha lactalbumin, factor 8, fibrinogen, Collagen I and II, lacto ferrin and human serum albumin and also monoclonal antibodies.

Transgenic Dog: In 2009, the study to find out the role of estrogen in fertility employed the use of genetically engineered dogs. The experimental dogs were genetically engineered with the insertion of a gene responsible for fluorescent glow in the dogs which changed its colour to red while exposed to UV light.

Transgenic cats: Green-fluorescent transgenic cats were developed in the year 2011 in order to explore various therapeutics for treating HIV infection (humans) and FIV infection (cats).
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