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Genetic Engineering


Genetic engineering is the process of modifying the genetic makeup of an organism, whether it is an animal, a plant, or a bacterium, with the use of technology.

This can be accomplished through the use of recombinant DNA (rDNA), which is DNA obtained from two or more distinct organisms and then combined into a single molecule, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).

In the early 1970s, recombinant DNA technology was developed, and the first genetic engineering business, Genentech, was founded in 1976.

The company extracted the human insulin genes from E. Coli bacteria, enabling the bacteria to synthesise human insulin. Genentech produced the first recombinant DNA medication, human insulin, in 1982, following FDA approval.

The FDA approved the first genetically modified vaccination for humans in 1987, and it was for hepatitis B. Since the 1980s, genetic engineering has been utilised to develop a variety of products ranging from a more ecologically friendly lithium-ion battery to infection-resistant crops such as the Honey Sweet Plum. These organisms, dubbed Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), are created through genetic engineering and can be grown to be less sensitive to disease or to resist specific environmental conditions.

Recombinant DNA Technology

DNA (DNA) molecules are DNA molecules generated in the laboratory using genetic recombination procedures (such as molecular cloning) that combine genetic material from several sources to produce sequences not seen in biological organisms.

  • Recombinant DNA is possible because DNA molecules from all living things have the same chemical structure. Except for the nucleotide sequence within that structure, they are structurally identical.

  • Recombinant DNA technology is a game-changing breakthrough in biotechnology that has helped a wide range of fields, including research, medicine, agriculture, and industry. It is defined as the fusion of DNA molecules from two different species that have been introduced into the same host organism to form new genetic combinations.

To make new products with recombinant DNA, the proper nucleotide sequence must first be separated from the original DNA. Restriction enzymes, often known as molecular scissors, are used to cut double-stranded DNA at the desired gene's position.

The recovered DNA can then be spliced together with a vector, which is a fragment of DNA capable of conveying genes between species. A plasmid is a small circular segment of DNA found in bacteria that serves as a vector.

Way Forward

In bacteria like e.coli, scientists inject the vector encoding the desired gene. A single E.coli cell will replicate in a matter of hours, producing millions of cells, each of which will have the gene introduced by the scientist. Cellular cloning is another term for this.

The following are some of the applications of recombinant DNA:

  • treating debilitating genetic disorders

  • inhibiting viral diseases

  • inhibiting inflammation

  • developing new medicines and safer vaccines

  • developing biopesticides

  • bioinsecticides

  • biofertilizers that are beneficial to agriculture while remaining environmentally friendly

  • increasing agriculture output while decreasing inputs

  • reducing food spoilage and post-harvest farm wastage

  • controlling a pest population

  • increasing agriculture output while decreasing inputs.


CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, a type of genetic information used by some bacterial species to fight viruses. CRISPR/Cas9 has transformed biomedical research as a gene-editing tool, and it may soon enable medicinal discoveries in ways that few biological innovations have previously.

CRISPR/Cas9 edits genes by cutting DNA precisely and then allowing natural DNA repair mechanisms to take over. The Cas9 enzyme and a guide RNA are the two components of the mechanism.

Restriction Enzymes

With the discovery of restriction enzymes in the 1970s, the possibility to modify genes became a reality. Restriction enzymes recognise specific nucleotide sequence patterns and cut at that spot, allowing fresh DNA material to be inserted at that location.

DNA mapping, epigenome mapping, and the construction of DNA libraries all require restriction enzymes.

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