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5 Futuristic Genetic Engineering Applications That Will Reshape Our World

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Genetic Engineering Applications

Genetic Engineering (GE) is also known as Genetic Modification or Genetic Manipulation. It is the direct manipulation of an organism’s genes using biotechnology. GE is a blend of techniques used for identification, replication, modification, and transfer of genetic material. In 1973, Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen were the first to accomplish the process of transferring genes from one organism to another—transgenesis, the first artificial genetic modification accomplished using biotechnology.  The series of advancements in techniques allowed the direct modification of the genome. The discovery of restriction enzymes and DNA ligases, the ability to design plasmids, and technologies like polymerase chain reaction and sequencing were few of the advances that happened over the years. 

The practice of GE is not new; it started way back with the process of fermentation, beer, and yogurt production. Over the years, innovation in GE played a central part in the discernment of genes and characteristics of genes of various life forms including humans, microorganisms, plants, and animals.

The human genome project (HGP) is considered as one of the world’s largest projects in the field of molecular drugs and evolutionary studies. Scientists used the human genome map to understand the function of each gene. 

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) stores the gene sequences in a database called GenBank, the other databases include DNA databank of Japan (National Institute of Genetics) and EMBL (European Bioinformatics Institute.

  1. Genetic Engineering Application in Agriculture

Genetic Engineering Applications

The green revolution is one of the perfect examples of Genetic Engineering applications in agriculture. The Green revolution included breeding which helped in increasing the production of wheat in countries like India, Pakistan, and Mexico. Born in Cresco, Iowa, Dr. Norman E. Borlaug who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 is known as the father of the green revolution. He continuously worked for 16 years and created a hybrid wheat plant that resisted fungus and diseases and also could yield high. 

Genetically modified crops were first accepted for marketing purposes in the year 1994. It rapidly expanded in all those countries of the world to generate main crops. Until 2014, 29 countries have developed genetically modified crops with 181.5 million hectares of land. Several benefits have been associated with these crops including; herbicide, stress and pest resistance, drought, and salinity tolerance, and improved nutritional value.

Examples of GM crops include; GM soybean, GM canola, BTbrinjal, GM papaya, and many more.

Currently, the USA produces the highest number of GM crops in the world followed by countries like Brazil, Argentina, Canada, China, and India. With the help of GM technology, scientists were able to produce edible vaccines in crops such as tomato and potato. These were mostly benefits during the shipment and storage of vaccines as compared to traditional vaccines. Furthermore, GM technology has numerous benefits such as reducing chemical pesticides, increasing crop yields, and increasing profitability.    

  1. Genetic Engineering Application in Animals

Genetic Engineering Applications

In the 1980s, scientists were successful to add stably-inherited new genes to the animals. Mice and Fruit flies were one of the first animals on which the testing was conducted. Later in 1982, Richard Palmiter and his colleagues discovered that the growth of the mice happened with the combination of the growth hormone gene of rat and the metallothionein gene of the mouse which leads to growth hormone production. 

One of the successful scientific breakthroughs happened in 1997 when scientists in Scotland cloned sheep using the cloning technique.  The introduction of CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat) is considered as remarkable in the field of genetic engineering. In 2019, it was used for treating a patient with a genetic disorder. Furthermore, it is predicted that incoming year, CRISPR will be used for creating new species or to bring back the extinct species. 

  1. Genetic Engineering Application in Medical Science 

Genetic Engineering Applications

In 1972, Paul Berg made the first recombinant DNA molecule by combining DNA from the monkey virus SV40 with the lambda virus. Since, the discovery of Gene therapy in the 1980s, it has helped prevented diseases and genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome, cancer, cystic fibrosis Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, viral infectious diseases such as AIDS and many others. In the upcoming years, gene therapy will play a vital role in the treatment of many such diseases. The advancements being made in biotechnology and GE have brought gene therapy in the limelight.

Different approaches can be used in the process of gene therapy; firstly, a normal gene can be inserted in the genome at a non-specific site to replace the defected gene. Secondly, the defected gene can be exchanged with the homologous recombination of a normal gene.  Thirdly, there is a possibility to repair the defective gene through reverse mutation. Lastly, the expression of a gene can be altered. 

  1. Genetic Engineering Application in Biopharmaceuticals

Genetic Engineering Applications

Over the last 20 years, various regular bodies such as FDA, EPA, and other European authorities have approved approximately 95% of Biopharmaceutical drugs. These approvals were given for diseases like diabetes mellitus, growth disorders, inflammatory conditions, and neurological conditions. With the development in biotechnology, several drugs are now being produced using the biological process. 

Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas, a gland located behind your stomach. It allows your body to use glucose for energy. Glucose is a type of sugar found in many carbohydrates.

One of the discoveries using the genetic engineering application in Biopharmaceuticals is the development of insulin to fight against diabetes. The bovine and porcine insulin is derived from the pancreases of animals which is similar to human insulin. These insulin were causing inflammation at the place of injection which raised questions on the safety issues. Thus, researchers produced recombinant insulin (Humulin) produced by inserting the insulin gene in a vector. Comparatively, this insulin is safe and effective than normal insulin.  

  1. Genetic Engineering Application in Environmental Biotechnology

Genetic Engineering Applications

Over the last few decades, pressure on the environment is continuously rising, due to issues like overpopulation, pollution, urbanization, and other serious issues. Many NGOs and organizations are now stressing on reducing the negative effects on the environment. Moreover, we are also experiencing many frequent natural climates such as earthquakes, floor, thunderstorms, cyclones, etc. 

With the help of genetic engineering applications in environmental biotechnology, scientists are trying to reduce the impact of wastes created from plastics and other sources. Gene theory is one of the most popular genetic engineering applications which helps in analyzing and executing actions related to microbes and ecology through complex examination techniques. Also, it helped in identifying new classes of noxious waste, contaminants reduction methods are introduced, depending upon biochemical active degraders.

The term Environmental biotechnology is defined as the use of natural elements like bacteria, plants, animals, molds, and mushrooms to generate sustainable energy and to produce of earning methods, the food and nutrients use in the synergistic corporate cycle in which each route waste material is used by another process as raw material.

Environmental biotechnology is playing a valuable role in improving waste recovery, biodegradation and also eliminates environmental collisions through biofertilizers, biosensors, etc. Oil-eating bacteria are used for eliminating the oil contaminants. The advancement in environmental biotechnology helped in removing heavy metals and harmful chemicals. Vegetable protein is used to produce eco-friendly plastics. Through biotechnology, non-fossil fuels and eco-friendly chemicals can also be generated and water, air, soil contaminants are also eliminated. The most recent technological breakthrough using genetic engineering techniques is the manufacturing of Biodiesel or biofuel. 

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