Summary

  • Biotechnology has given to humans several useful products by using microbes, plant, animals and their metabolic machinery.
  • Recombinant DNA technology has made it possible to engineer microbes, plants and animals such that they have novel capabilities.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms have been created by using methods other than natural methods to transfer one or more genes from one organism to another, generally using techniques such as recombinant DNA technology.
  • GM plants have been useful in increasing crop yields, reduce postharvest losses and make crops more tolerant of stresses.
  • There are several GM crop plants with improved nutritional value of foods and reduced the reliance on chemical pesticides (pest-resistant crops).
  • Recombinant DNA technological processes have made immense impact in the area of healthcare by enabling mass production of safe and more effective therapeutics.
  • Since the recombinant therapeutics are identical to human proteins, they do not induce unwanted immunological responses and are free from risk of infection as was observed in case of similar products isolated from non-human sources.
  • Human insulin is made in bacteria yet its structure is absolutely identical to that of the natural molecule.
  • Transgenic animals are also used to understand how genes contribute to the development of a disease by serving as models for human diseases, such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
  • Gene therapy is the insertion of genes into an individual’s cells and tissues to treat diseases especially hereditary diseases. It does so by replacing a defective mutant allele with a functional one or gene targeting which involves gene amplification.
  • Viruses that attack their hosts and introduce their genetic material into the host cell as part of their replication cycle are used as vectors to transfer healthy genes or more recently portions of genes.
  • The current interest in the manipulation of microbes, plants, and animals has raised serious ethical questions.

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