Welcome back to the ‘Why We Need Genetic Research’ series! Today we will be talking about how this research can be applied. If you missed the first post about the history of genetic research, I will link it here. Similarly, if you missed the last post about the importance of genetic research, it will be linked here. Genetic research specific to the human body has numerous different applications. The field of Genetics has allowed for scientists to control the environment and the world around us. The purpose of this is to create optimal conditions in which humans have a better chance of survival. Let’s look at three of the ways that genetic research is currently being applied in the world today.
One way that this research is being applied is via biotechnology. Oxford Dictionary describes biotechnology as, “the exploitation of biological processes for industrial and other purposes, especially the genetic manipulation of microorganisms for the production of antibiotics, hormones, etc.” The medical aim of biotechnology is to make vaccines and products for what were recently untreatable diseases. Scientists using this for medical purposes often experiment on stem cells and the like. These scientists can change the way the human body reacts to a virus or disease with the manipulation of the pathogen’s own microbiome. Additionally, there is research that has proved that tweaking the human body’s own genes helps fight against disease as well. This research is very complicated, but is showing great progress!
The next way genetic research is being applied is through plants. Scientists have figured out a way to alter plants to have them benefit us medically. An article states that, “plants are engineered to produce human hormones, clotting factors, and antibodies in their seeds” (APPLICATIONS). One example I found regarding this was hormones being grown in a bacteria culture. Children can have too little of a hormone called Human Growth Hormone (HGH) produced in their body for a variety of reasons. In a procedure called recombinant DNA technology, Human Growth Hormone is grown in petri dishes by an sample of the working gene, therefore producing HGH much more quickly. This is actually how insulin was first produced. The science behind this is a bit above my head, but the benefits of it are nothing to laugh about.
Gene therapy is another way that genetic research is currently being applied. This is a heavily researched, but newly trialed way that scientists and doctors are using to treat genetic diseases. Oxford Dictionaries describes Gene Therapy as, “the transplantation of normal genes into cells in place of missing or defective ones in order to correct genetic disorders.” For example, there is a current medicine trial going on for sickle cell disease as of this past December. Sickle-Cell Disease has only one faulty gene that causes the red blood cells to be sickle shaped. In the “Bluebird Bio trial, Walters has enrolled two people so far, and plans to enroll four or five in all at his institution — a total of 50 people will be recruited across the United States. The trial is using the gene-therapy drug LentiGlobin BB305 to insert a healthy version of the β-globin gene into people’s blood stem cells. With the gene, the stem cells will make normal red blood cells instead of sickle-shaped ones” (Nowogrodzki, Anna). While this is still very costly, it is a huge step forward in the treatment of a disease that currently only has a 33% rate of success.
The applications of genetic research today seem like science fiction. From biotechnology, to plant engineering, then gene therapy, there is a vast array of applications in use today. Some methods have been around for a long time, whilst others are quite new to the table. Either way, it is astonishing to see how this research is being used. What may seem like research today, may be in use tomorrow. This article officially marks the middle of our five part series on the research of genetics. We have looked into the history, importance, and just now the application of this research. Next time, we will be exploring how genetic research effects Orphan Diseases. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading today’s article! What were your thoughts? Have you heard of any of these application methods? Please subscribe and I’ll see you next time my Un-imaginables!
“APPLICATIONS OF GENETIC TECHNOLOGIES.” Its All about Zoology , Botany and Biology, biologyboom.com/applications-of-genetic-technologies/.
“Applications of Genetics.” Its All about Zoology , Botany and Biology, biologyboom.com/applications-of-genetics/.
Brennan, John. “The Production of Recombinant Human Growth Hormones by Recombinant DNA Technology.” Sciencing, 2 Mar. 2019, sciencing.com/production-recombinant-human-growth-hormones-recombinant-dna-technology-2230.html.
Nowogrodzki, Anna. “Gene Therapy Targets Sickle-Cell Disease.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 12 Dec. 2018, http://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07646-w.
“What Is Biotechnology?” BIO, http://www.bio.org/what-biotechnology.