Biotechnology_SPRING_2011

Biotechnology_SPRING_2011 - February 24, 2011 Science...

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Unformatted text preview: February 24, 2011 Science Headlines Biotechnology Mutant Worms Produce Piles of Spider Silk October 4, 2010 Wired Science Snippets of spider genes let mutant silkworms spin silk stronger than steel . Scientists have coaxed miles of spider- like silk from a colony of transgenic silkworms , opening the door for large-scale production of super-strong, tough and flexible fibers. We can make a lot more silk from the silkworm process than you could possibly make from spiders , said molecular biologist Malcolm Fraser of the University of Notre Dame. Spider silk has long been hailed as a superfiber , useful for everything from surgical sutures to bulletproof vests to scaffolding for growing cartilage. But spiders tend to be predatory loners who turn to cannibalism when raised in close quarters , making it nearly impossible to mass produce the treasured threads. A tapestry on display at the American Museum of Natural History last year took more than a million spiders to produce. By inserting specific spider genes into silkworm chromosomes , Fraser and his colleagues grew a colony of caterpillars that produce threads nearly as strong as spider silk . We can basically mix and match spider silk genes, Fraser said. Its like mixing paint take properties that you want and mix them in, the silkworm has them all expressed and you have a mixture of properties in your silk strand. Biotech is relatively new! Biotech Revolution started with discovery of DNA structure 1953 (Watson and Crick) 1. Prior to that? First, just selection, then traditional plant and animal breeding sexual propagation only , using Mendelian genetics a. A lot of progress was made b. But had 2 major limitations: 1) Could only make crosses between closely related species ( genus x genus crosses are rare!!) 2) Genes often come in groups so additional traits were passed along with the one desired 2. 1970s Biotechnology came into use a new tool a. Discovered that enzymes could cut out a single gene. b. Allowed the movement of a single gene for a specific trait. Gene from a firefly insect was inserted into tobacco plant. (1970s) (This was basic , not applied research.) Since then, many other biotech break- throughs. Pharming? (Using plants & animals)-- Gene for production of vaccines against bacterial diarrhea was put into bananas. (Importance of this disease?) (Problems with antibiotic resistance?)-- Delivery and acceptance by people in LDCs was better. (You like needles?)-- No longer needed medical personnel to give shots.-- Another advantage: How are/were most vaccines produced? Sometimes, this caused problems. Why?...
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Biotechnology_SPRING_2011 - February 24, 2011 Science...

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