Genetic Engineering In Humans

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A basic introduction to Genetic Engineering in humans.

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Genetic Engineering In Humans

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What is Genetic Engineering? Genetic engineering , also called genetic modification , is the direct manipulation of an organism's  genome using biotechnology. New DNA may be inserted in the host genome by first isolating and copying the genetic material of interest using molecular cloning methods to generate a DNA sequence, or by synthesizing the DNA, and then inserting this construct into the host organism. Genes may be removed, or "knocked out", using a nuclease. Gene targeting is a different technique that uses homologous recombination to change an endogenous gene, and can be used to delete a gene, remove exons , add a gene, or introduce point mutations. .

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Genome? A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. In humans, a copy of the entire genome—more than 3 billion DNA base pairs—is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.

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What Is ‘DNA’? DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA ).

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Each base pair is attached to a sugar molecule and a phosphate molecule. Together, a base, sugar, and phosphate are called a nucleotide. Nucleotides are arranged in two long strands that form a spiral called a double helix. The structure of the double helix is somewhat like a ladder, with the base pairs forming the ladder’s rungs and the sugar and phosphate molecules forming the vertical sidepieces of the ladder.

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What Is Genetic Engineering In Humans? Human genetic engineering is about genetically engineering human beings by modifying their genotypes before birth. The Genotype is the genetic constitution of an individual with respect to a particular character under consideration. This is done to control the traits possessed by the individual after his/her birth. The cells of our body contain encoded information about the body's growth, structure and functioning in the form of genes. Human genetic engineering aims at decoding this information and applying it to the welfare of mankind.

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The Process of Genetic Engineering In Humans Step 1: The first step is to choose and isolate the gene that will be inserted into the genetically modified organism. Presently, most genes transferred into plants provide protection against insects or tolerance to herbicides. In animals the majority of genes used are growth hormone genes. The gene can be isolated using restriction enzymes to cut DNA into fragments and gel electrophoresis to separate them.

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out according to length. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) can also be used to amplify up a gene segment, which can then be isolated through gel electrophoresis. If the chosen gene or the donor organism's genome has been well studied it may be present in a genetic library. If the DNA sequence is known, but no copies of the gene are available, it can be artificially synthesized.

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Step 2: The gene to be inserted into the genetically modified organism must be combined with other genetic elements in order for it to work properly. The gene can also be modified at this stage for better expression or effectiveness. As well as the gene to be inserted most constructs contain a promoter and terminator region as well as a selectable marker gene. The promoter region initiates transcription of the gene and can be used to control the location and level of gene expression, while the terminator region ends transcription.

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The selectable marker, which in most cases confers antibiotic resistance to the organism it is expressed in, is needed to determine which cells are transformed with the new gene. The constructs are made using recombinant DNA techniques, such as restriction digests, litigations and molecular cloning. The manipulation of the DNA generally occurs within a plasmid.

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The most common form of genetic engineering involves inserting new genetic material randomly within the host genome. Other techniques allow new genetic material to be inserted at a specific location in the host genome or generate mutations at desired genomic loci capable of knocking out endogenous genes. The technique of gene targeting uses homologous recombination to target desired changes to a specific endogenous gene. This tends to occur at a relatively low frequency in plants and animals and generally requires the use of selectable markers. The frequency of gene targeting can be greatly enhanced with the use of

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engineered nucleases such as zinc finger nucleases, [ engineered homing endonucleases , or nucleases created from TAL effectors. In addition to enhancing gene targeting, engineered nucleases can also be used to introduce mutations at endogenous genes that generate a gene knockout.

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Benefits of Genetic Engineering In Humans It could help prevent life-threatening and incurable diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's disease, even HIV/AIDS. There are cases like cardiomyopathy or susceptibility to viruses, that can be overcome with the help of this technology.

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Better drugs could be produced that are disease or gene specific and attack the specific genetic mutation in an individual, to help over come a disease or disorder. People with a love of life, can place their bets on it to help them live longer. It is possible to increase the average life span of an individual to 100-150 years. And not just a longer life, but a healthy, long life, free from diseases and disorders. Although this may take a bit longer to achieve, but is does not seem impossible any longer.

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Parents can choose the characteristics for babies, like blond with blue eyes, high IQ, fair skin, etc. It may even be possible to choose the talent in your favorite idol to be manufactured in your baby, for example, a singer like Elvis Presley or maybe a great dancer like Michael Jackson. One could even try to create super-humans by incorporating specific features of certain animals. For example, one could have super-sharp vision like the hawk or could outrun a cheetah. One could create a 'Superman' like human who is indestructible.

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Disadvantages Of Genetic Engineering In Humans In the pursuit of producing babies without any genetic defects or hereditary disorders, we may end up producing super humans. Just as the example I mentioned in the beginning of my article, we may have a line of humans that may spell doom to those who are not genetically modified.

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Smarter humans means, larger brains, that may lead to babies with larger heads that have trouble passing through the birth canal of their mothers. This may cause trouble during birth and a rise in cesarean. Long life could lead to population problems. There may be stress on the natural resources and less living space. Yyou may live free of diseases, you may have a fight for survival for securing the basic necessities.

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The problem faced by many developing countries today, is female infanticide. It may help stop this cruel and barbaric custom of killing the innocent girl child. However,it may help such narrow-minded, biased parents to actually choose the gender of the child. Therefore, more parents opting for a male child over a girl child. Thus, directly bringing an end to girl child killing as there will be no birth of the girl child!

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The idea of 'Superman' may seem tantalizing, but its consequences may be very dangerous. Imagine a person who is virtually indestructible, may carry out crimes and becomes a danger to mankind.

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MADE BY : Kopal Sinha Abhishek Kunwar Vishnu Dutt