Genetic Engineering (2864 words)

Published: 2020-06-05 12:56:04
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Genetic engineeringScience is a creature that continues to evolve at a much higher rate than the beings thatgave it birth. The transformation time from tree-shrew, to ape, to human far exceeds the timefrom analytical engine, to calculator, to computer. But science, in the past, has always remaineddistant. It has allowed for advances in production, transportation, and even entertainment, butnever in history will science be able to so deeply affect our lives as genetic engineering willundoubtedly do. With the birth of this new technology, scientific extremists and anti-technologists have risen in arms to block its budding future. Spreading fear by misinterpretationof facts, they promote their hidden agendas in the halls of the United States congress. Geneticengineering is a safe and powerful tool that will yield unprecedented results, specifically in thefield of medicine. It will usher in a world where gene defects, bacterial disease, and even agingare a thing of the past. By understanding genetic engineering and its history, discovering itspossibilities, and answering the moral and safety questions it brings forth, the blanket of fearcovering this remarkable technical miracle can be lifted. The first step to understanding genetic engineering, and embracing its possibilities forsociety, is to obtain a rough knowledge base of its history and method. The basis for altering theevolutionary process is dependant on the understanding of how individuals pass oncharacteristics to their offspring. Genetics achieved its first foothold on the secrets of nature’sevolutionary process when an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel developed the first laws ofheredity.” Using these laws, scientists studied the characteristics of organisms for most of the next one hundred years following Mendel’s discovery. These early studies concluded that eachorganism has two sets of character determinants, or genes (Stableford 16). For instance, inregards to eye color, a child could receive one set of genes from his father that were encoded oneblue, and the other brown. The same child could also receive two brown genes from his mother. The conclusion for this inheritance would be the child has a three in four chance of havingbrown eyes, and a one in three chance of having blue eyes (Stableford 16). Genes are transmitted through chromosomes which reside in the nucleus of every livingorganism’s cells. Each chromosome is made up of fine strands of deoxyribonucleic acids, orDNA. The information carried on the DNA determines the cells function within the organism. Sex cells are the only cells that contain a complete DNA map of the organism, therefore, thestructure of a DNA molecule or combination of DNA molecules determines the shape, form, and function of the [organism’s] offspring ” (Lewin 1). DNA discovery is attributed to the researchof three scientists, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and James Dewey Watson in 1951. Theywere all later accredited with the Nobel Price in physiology and medicine in 1962 (Lewin 1). The new science of genetic engineering aims to take a dramatic short cut in the slow process of evolution” (Stableford 25). In essence, scientists aim to remove one gene from anorganism’s DNA, and place it into the DNA of another organism. This would create a new DNAstrand, full of new encoded instructions; a strand that would have taken Mother Nature millionsof years of natural selection to develop. Isolating and removing a desired gene from a DNAstrand involves many different tools. DNA can be broken up by exposing it to ultra-high-frequency sound waves, but this is an extremely inaccurate way of isolating a desirable DNA section (Stableford 26). A more accurate way of DNA splicing is the use of restrictionenzymes, which are produced by various species of bacteria” (Clarke 1). The restrictionenzymes cut the DNA strand at a particular location called a nucleotide base, which makes up aDNA molecule. Now that the desired portion of the DNA is cut out, it can be joined to another strand of DNA by using enzymes called ligases. The final important step in the creation of anew DNA strand is giving it the ability to self-replicate. This can be accomplished by usingspecial pieces of DNA, called vectors, that permit the generation of multiple copies of a totalDNA strand and fusing it to the newly created DNA structure. Another newly developed method, called polymerase chain reaction, allows for faster replication of DNA strands and doesnot

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