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Methods and Applications of Genetic Engineering



Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) contains all the information required for a cell to develop and survive. Over the past half century scientists have developed methods and applications of genetic engineering that are being used to better understand organisms and diseases, and to create novel tools for industry and medicine. Researchers cut up DNA to compare it among individuals. DNA can be replicated and inserted it into microorganisms to use them as factories to produce drugs or hormones to treat diseases. It is possible to modify the amount of gene products (usually proteins) produced in microbes by upregulation or downregulation of them. Microbes can be identified using genetic methods faster than is possible using traditional culture techniques, speeding up effective treatment. New methods in genetic engineering allow for more precise DNA modification to treat and cure diseases.

At A Glance

  • Polymerase chain reaction amplifies specific sequences of DNA while gel electrophoresis separates DNA mixtures by size to create distinctive patterns, allowing comparison of samples or further analyses.
  • Restriction endonucleases are enzymes that recognize specific DNA sequences and cut the DNA at the recognition site, which makes them valuable tools for studying DNA.
  • Genes from an organism can be moved into and replicated in another organism through the use of recombinant DNA.
  • Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) is naturally found in bacteria and archaea and can be used to create specific alteration in genomes.
  • Bioengineering is used to create organisms that act as living manufacturing facilities. Hormones, proteins, and vaccines for human use have been widely produced by using modified microorganisms.
  • Gene therapy attempts to correct a genetic disorder by transplanting normal genes into cells to replace missing or malfunctioning cells.
  • There are many individual bases in DNA that differ between organisms, and detection of these single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) is useful for an array of applications.