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ORelease of genetically engineered microorganisms : opportunities and pitfals - Research Paper Example

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Name Professor Subject Date Genetically Engineered Microorganisms: Opportunities and Pitfalls Genetically engineered micro-organisms (GEM) are those microorganisms where DNA from many organisms have been inserted into prokaryotic, eukaryotic and other viral hosts creating a new ‘novel’ genetic material…
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ORelease of genetically engineered microorganisms : opportunities and pitfals
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Download file to see previous pages (Alun and Morgan 91). The new technology involves genetic engineering is also termed as “genetic manipulation, bioengineering or applied genetics has caught the public attention and has been the focus of extensive public debate. The controversy has centered on the application of organisms altered by the introduction of recombinant DNA (rDNA) molecules. Organisms modified by cell fusion, transformation, transduction and use of mutagenic acid, are also included in the debate” (Colwell 41). Genetic engineering traces its origins from the discovery of bacterial enzymes called restriction endonucleases (Res) in the 1960s. REs cut “DNA into pieces by making breaks in the sugar-phosphate backbone”. They do not cut however at random, but rather, “breaks the DNA in a precise and reproducible manner…by cutting only at specific recognition sites, (at) sequences of typically four to six nucleotides” (Hogg 315). The simple genetic make-up of bacteria made them the first organisms to be modified in a laboratory. Genetic engineering is being applied since the 1970s, when insulin was first produced through recombinant techniques. During those times, “although bovine and porcine insulin are similar to human insulin, their composition is slightly different. Consequently, a number of patients' immune systems produce antibodies against it, neutralizing its actions and resulting in inflammatory responses at injection sites. Added to these adverse effects of bovine and porcine insulin, were fears of long term complications ensuing from the regular injection of a foreign substance, as well as a projected decline in the production of animal derived insulin. These factors led researchers to consider synthesizing humulin by inserting the insulin gene into a suitable vector, the E. coli bacterial cell, to produce insulin that is chemically identical to its naturally produced counterpart.” (Recombinant DNA Technology in the Synthesis of Human Insulin par. 2). Continued research and development of new equipment contributed to many advances in genetic engineering techniques “have allowed researchers to manipulate the makeup of microorganisms to either impart new abilities or enhance those already present” (Lada 11). Present Day Uses of GEM The manipulation of microorganisms have long been “applied for example, (in the) rotation of leguminous crops for soil fertilization, selective breeding of animals to create progeny of higher reproductive capacity, introduction of ‘exotic’ species into non-indigenous environments, production of organic acids, antibiotics, alcohol, food and as biocontrol agents” (Colwell par. 41). In medicine, genetic engineering has produced a variety of drugs and hormones. “Interferon, used to eliminate certain viruses and kill cancer cells, is a product of genetic engineering, as are tissue plasminogen activator and urokinase, which are used to dissolve blood clots. Another byproduct is a type of human growth hormone used to treat dwarfism and is produced through genetically engineered bacteria and yeasts” (Discovery Channel What are some important uses of genetic engineering? Par. 1). In the United Kingdom, researchers developed a treatment against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by using the bacterium Bacteroides ovatus which “activates a protein when exposed to a specific type of sugar, xylan. The bacterium is able to deliver the protein, a human growth ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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