• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What is Genetic Engineering?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What is Genetic Engineering? Genetic engineering is an umbrella term which can cover a wide range of ways of changing the genetic material - the DNA code - in a living organism. This code contains all the information, stored in a long chain chemical molecule, which determines the nature of the organism - whether it is an amoeba, a pine tree, a robin, an octopus, a cow or a human being - and which characterises the particular individual. Apart from identical twins, your detailed genetic make-up is unique to you. Individual genes are particular sections of this chain, spaced out along it, which determine the characteristics and functions of our body. Defects of individual genes can cause a malfunction in the metabolism of the body, and are the roots of many "genetic" diseases. Genetic mapping Our understanding of our genetic makeup is being greatly expanded by a systemmatic mapping process known as the Human Genome Project, carried out internationally with enormous commercial and government funding. Smaller projects are also drawing the genetic map of pigs, chickens and some other organisms. As this work proceeds, individual genes are being identified for various functions and especially for medical conditions. Sometimes it appears that a single gene is responsible, for example in cystic fibrosis, but most conditions seem to be caused by more complex sets of factors, both genetic and environmental. We should make an important distinction between a gene which causes a condition outright, and one that gives one a susceptibilty to it, but which requires other factors to be present as well for the condition to develop. ...read more.

Middle

This is usually done by crossing two members of the same species which possess dominant alleles for particular genes, such as long life and quick metabolism in one organism crossed with another organism possessing genes for fast growth and high yield. Since both these organisms have dominant genes for these desirable characteristics, when they are crossed they will produce at least some offspring that will show ALL of these desirable characteristics. When such a cross occurs, the offspring is termed a hybrid, produced from two genetically dissimilar parents which usually produces offspring with more desirable qualities. Breeders continuously track which characteristics are possessed by each organism so when the breeding season comes once again, they can selectively breed the organisms to produce more favourable qualities in the offspring. The offspring will become heterozygous, meaning the allele for each characteristic will possess one dominant and one recessive gene. Most professional breeders have a true breeding cross (ie AAbb with AAbb) so that they will produce a gene bank of these qualities that can be crossed with aaBB to produce heterozygous offspring. This way the dominant features are retained in the first breeding group and can be passed on to offspring in the second instance. This process of selecting parents is called artificial selection or selective breeding, and poses no threat to nature from man manipulating the the course of nature. It has allowed our species to increase the efficiency of the animals and plants we breed, such as increasing milk yield from cows by continuously breeding selected cows with one another to produce a hybrid. ...read more.

Conclusion

It's a bit like moving on from a first-attempt demo music tape to a classic CD." The accurate genome sequence will allow researchers to identify genes involved in more complex diseases including cancer and diabetes. Professor Kay Davies, Department of Human Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, said: "One of the great benefits to spring from the Human Genome Project is the full catalogue of genes, which gives us a clearer route to therapies. We now have a better navigating system. Using this, we have found genes that may compensate for the defect in muscular dystrophy using entirely novel methods, which could have implications for thousands of people." Before the sequencing project began it could take researchers months or even years to find one gene. Now the same task can be completed in hours or days. Professor William Cookson, Senior Clinical Fellow at the Welcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford, said: "The completed sequence will greatly help in the mapping of disease genes from the unfinished chromosomes. Dealing with the fragmentary information provided by the draft was better than dealing with no information at all, but the finished sequence will make our lives as disease gene hunters much easier." In the last ten years, The Welcome Trust Sanger Institute has grown from 17 staff to 650 today and is a world leader, not only in sequencing DNA, but also in understanding the messages in our genes to improve human health. The achievement of a finished human genome sequence comes 50 years after James Watson and Francis Crick first elucidated the double-helical structure of DNA. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Genetics, Evolution & Biodiversity section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Genetics, Evolution & Biodiversity essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    MENTAL HEALTH

    4 star(s)

    The medical name for wasting away is 'atrophy'. The atrophy mainly affects the cerebral cortex, which is the layer of grey matter that covers the brain. Grey matter is responsible for processing thoughts. Plaques and tangles As the cerebral cortex wastes away, clumps of protein, known as 'plaques' and 'tangles', start to form in the brain.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Human Cloning Assignment

    4 star(s)

    An example of a situation where cloning could be lifesaving is in a situation where a child is terminally ill and in need of a bone marrow transplant. Many times in a case like this, the parents of the sick child will decide to have another child hoping that it will match with the sick child.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Should Gene therapy be allowed to prevent cystic fibrosis?

    3 star(s)

    is expensive and it faces many problems when it comes to ethical and social debates. Alternative Methods Bactofection This technique involves using bacteria for transferring the gene directly into the target organism, organ and tissue.

  2. Oncogenes are genes that cause cancer.

    In many cases a retrovirus infection is innocuous to the cell. The virus acquires a new and potentially enduring home; new virus particles are manufactured and leave the cell, and yet the cell suffers no damage. The partnership can go awry, however, as a result of either of the two kinds of viral oncogenesis mentioned above.

  1. The Biology of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the Social Implications

    Bullying can make children, who do not suffer from ASD, feel isolated and more withdrawn from society by being anti-social and not partaking in activities at school, but to an autistic child, who may already have anti-social behavioural problems, can make the symptoms worse.

  2. Recombinant DNA, genetically engineered DNA prepared in vitro by cutting up DNA molecules and ...

    Genetic engineering had its origins during the late 1960s and early 1970s in experiments with bacteria, viruses, and small, free-floating rings of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) called plasmids, found in bacteria. While investigating how these viruses and plasmids move from cell to cell, recombine, and reproduce themselves, scientists discovered that bacteria

  1. Genetics: The code broken?

    and Rh- (d), with Rh+ being dominant * Rh+ have an antigen D present on their red blood cells, Whilst Rh- doesn't * A woman who is Rh- whose first baby is Rh+ is given an injection of anti-Rh antibodies to destroy any Rh+ blood cells that may have entered her blood stream during the birth process (passive immunity)

  2. Genetic Engineering is the artificial alteration of the genetic code

    It can make crops more nutritional, for example, rice could be made with higher protein content by inserting genes from pea plants. Also, it can make the crops last longer. In USA, there are already Flavr Savr(r) tomatoes on sale which have been genetically altered to soften slower.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work