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Applications of Genetic Engineering in Biotechnology
#1
The basic principle of genetic engineering is gene transfer, achieved by various methods to produce recombinant proteins, genetically modified microorganisms, transgenic plants and transgenic animals for commercial application. Genetic engineering, thus ultimately influences the growth of biotech industry. The two significant feature of genetic engineering is production of beneficial proteins and enzymes in surplus quantities and creation of transgenic plants, transgenic animals and genetically modified microorganisms with new characters beneficial for themselves using recombinant DNA technology. The discovery of a new protein either with a therapeutic property or application in food industry by a researcher or scientist would not have reached humans, for the use by humans without the application of genetic engineering in mass producing such proteins.

Recombinant proteins production and uses: The industrial production of proteins is done by transferring the desired gene responsible for the particular protein to be manufactured from the source organism to the preferred host organism through recombinant DNA technology. The host organism can be a bacteria or a eukaryote. The most preferred bacterial host is Escherichia coli for industrial production of proteins. The well established gene structure, faster growth rate, easy to cultivate and handle are the salient features of the E. coli bacterium fascinated the bio technologists to use this in recombinant protein production. Besides all these commendable characters of E. coli, the final output product is found to be unstable and difficult to purify. As a result research encouraged the use of eukaryotic host like yeast, cells of insects and cells of mammals in protein production. The proteins produced in this way find its way into pharmaceutical industry and food industry.

The recombinant proteins produced in the industry using the techniques of genetic engineering acts as drugs for various human diseases. To name a few, insulin produced for diabetes, alpha 1- antitrypsin in treating emphysema, calcitonin to treat rickets, interferon to treat viral infections and cancer, Factor VIII for hemophilia, production of growth hormone to act against growth retardation and chorionic gonadotrophin in the treatment of infertility. Some of the industrial manufactured enzymes occupy a vital position in the food industry. For example, the recombinant enzymes like rennin and lipase are used in cheese making, the role of alpha- amylase in beer industry, the antioxidant property of the industrially produced enzyme catalase and the use of protease in detergents.

Uses of Transgenic plants: In order to improve the quality and quantity of plants, traditional method of plant breeding is replaced by the creation of transgenic plants. The transgenic plants are plants carrying foreign genes introduced deliberately into them to develop a new character useful for the plant. The infection of plants by microorganism mostly viruses, poor production and decline in quality of plants due to attack by insects and the plants inability to withstand the pesticide or the weedicide used in the agriculture process welcomed the genetic engineering technology to develop transgenic plants with new characters like resistance to infections, defensive against the attacking insects and resistance to pesticides or weedicide.

The transfer of gene responsible for the protein protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis to plants to develop resistance against the attacking insects is a remarkable example. Also the digestive action of the insects on the plants is restricted or inhibited by transfer of gene responsible for a particular protein with the property to arrest protease activity. The pesticides and weedicides used to destroy the pests and weeds is also a threat to the cultivated plants. The effects of such chemicals are alleviated by developing a new character called resistance to chemicals in plants. Development of resistance in plants against the weedicide glyphosate states the role of genetic engineering in plant breeding.

Uses Transgenic animals: Transgenic animals are animals carrying foreign genes deliberately introduced into them and exhibiting the characteristics of the introduced gene. Animals are suitable for various research activities trying to help mankind. In that way transgenic animals are created to study human diseases to derive appropriate treatment methods and to develop and identify the drug useful to treat the disease. The presence of human proteins in milk of animals is made possible by genetic engineering. Gene transfer is done in animals to increase the milk production and to increase the growth.

Like a coin has two sides, the other face of genetic engineering like creation of genetically modified organisms to be used as biological weapons is not welcoming.
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#2
There is no denying the marvels of genetic research. Many things that men only dreamed of have not become a reality with more in the list. As more knowledge is gained and further positive results are obtained, the total number of areas where they can be implemented would only rise. Some of the various areas where their usage has been beneficial are:

Applications in Medicines: A majority of the findings of genetic research have proved to be of great significance to the medical world. With different kinds of vaccines, antibodies and vitamins developed and easily available in the market, many diseases are now under control and can be treated. These elements can be injected into the bodies of the patient. Chemotherapy and Radiology, which are very prominently used in cases of terminal diseases, are a gift of nothing but genetic research. Treatment of heredity diseases too is possible by manipulating the genes in the human body before birth. What could be better than having a baby devoid of any problems but with all wanted traits?

Applications in Industries: Synthetically produced items are now available in the markets which are used as raw materials by the industrialists. Commercially viable items can also be produced by using the biological procedures like fermentation (in bakeries). Genetic Research has been able to tell exactly what percentage and what quantities of items should be used for optimum results making everything calculated and risk free.

Applications in Agriculture: Artificially synthesized fruits and vegetables is just one of the many aspects. Fertilizers and bio synthesizers which help in proper growth of crops at the same time killing the harmful bacteria have helped the agriculture sector. If added nutrients are added to the soil, the produce is of better quality and of higher quantity, both of which are very beneficial. The soil does not lose its potential to grow more crops which allow for the agriculture process to be carried out all through the year. Added experiments are being carried out to make plants which are self dependent and would only be need to sown once. Emphasis is also paid on discovering plants which do not require high amounts of water.

Applications for Humans: Scientists are pondering over the possibility of making children with only the desirable traits are possible after the successes in cloning. This could do away with a majority of diseases and no vaccination would be required. Babies who have deficiency could be treated with additions being done to their genetic structure. Those who cannot reproduce due to medical complications have also seen positive results with surrogate parent's concept becoming available.

Applications for Environment: Organisms have been known to help in the bio degradation of waste materials. However, there are some materials like plastics which cannot be degraded by them. To help such causes, genetic research has produced modified microorganisms which not only have the capability of doing this but are also more efficient due to the speedy process. They are used in situations which may cause severe damage to the planet earth like oil spills.
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#3
Applications in computer science

Recent developments in the field of Genetic Engineering have focused on the Computer Science too. Namely, scientists are trying to use the DNA as digital data storage. How? Well, when you think about it, there is a lot of similarity between the way living creatures are “coded” and the way computer information is coded. On one side, we have the quaternary system of nitrogenous bases, stored in the form of nucleic acid DNA, which is then read in the form of codons, translated by the cell’s machinery – ribosomes, resulting in the product. On the other side, we have the binary system of ones and zeros, which can then be interpreted in different ways, resulting in the digital product.

This similarity between the two codes, the binary digital one and the quaternary biological one, has given scientists the idea of merging these two. Why? Because the space used by digital data could be decreased enormously, and it could be kept in stable form a lot longer.

The basic principle behind this usage of DNA is that a conversion has to be made. Scientists have assigned Adenine and Cytosine as zero and Guanine and Thymine as one. The next step is to encode the sequence of ones and zeroes into the sequence of nucleotides. Synthesis of oligonucleotides is the following step, which is the actual process of storing of digital data. If we want to read the information, we will have to use sequencers, which are able to interpret the sequence of nucleotides. Once we have the sequence, we can decode it back into the binary code and use it in the computer systems.

The biggest advantage of this process is that 1 gram of DNA can hold up to 700 terabytes of information! Moreover, if the DNA is stored properly, in cold, dry and dark place, it can survive intact for thousands of years. However, the reading of the data is the biggest issue, since it requires sequencing which takes a lot of time, especially if we are dealing with vast amount of information. But there is place for improvement and this could be our next way of digital data storage.
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#4
Genetic engineering techniques have been used for acquiring basic knowledge about - biological processes like gene structure and expression, chromosome mapping, cell differentiation and the integration of viral genomes. This could lead to a better under¬standing of the genetics of plants and animals, and ultimately of humans.
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#5
Thank you for your information. That was informative!
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