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Genetic Engineering


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Title: Genetic Engineering

Genetic Engineering
  • Bioethics

What is Genetic Engineering?
  • basic definition genetic engineering is the
    direct manipulation of an organism's genes. 
  • Genetic Engineering is useful in many fields
    including food production and medicine.
  • While it seems promising, there is still a lot
    that we do not know about Genetic Engineering.

Gregor Mendel
  • Gregor Mendel lived from 1822-1884 in Brunn,
  • He was an Augustinian Monk who taught natural
    science to high school students.

The Father of Genetics
  • Mendel was the first person to trace the
    characteristics of successive generations of
    living things.
  • Mendel wondered how plants acquired atypical
  • Mendel performed experiments on pea plants, mice
    and ornamental plants.

Dominance and segregation of traits
  • Mendel crossed peas and mice of different
  • Through this experiment Mendel discovered the
    phenomena of dominance and segregation.
  • Dominance decides which characteristic most often
    surfaces the dominant characteristic overrides
    the recessive gene and appears in the organism.
  • Segregation of genes decides which genes are
    inherited from the parents.

Laws of Heredity
  • Heredity factors do not combine they are passed
  • Ex A child of parents with black and red hair
    would inherit one of the two colors not a mix of
    the two.
  • Each member of the parental generation transmits
    half of its hereditary factors to each offspring
  • Different sets of offspring from the same parents
    receive different sets of hereditary factors
  • Ex siblings are not identical, their differences
    come from the inheritance of different genes from
    their parents.

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  • Discovered in 1869
  • James Watson and Francis Crick discovered that
    DNA had a double Helix form.
  • Our DNA or genes decide who we are, they decide
    everything from our eye color to our shoe size.

DNA Engineering
  • We use recombinant DNA to manipulate genes.
  • Recombinant DNA is taking DNA from one source and
    inserting into another organisms DNA giving that
    being those characteristics.
  • Ex. Inserting salmons anti-freezing genes into
    corn to allow it to survive frost.

Process of DNA Engineering
  • 1. Restriction enzymes cut DNA at their base
    parts causing sticky ends to form.
  • 2. DNA ligase (linker sequences of DNA) are
    placed on the sticky ends of the DNA.
  • 3. A Plasmid holding foreign DNA is inserted into
    the DNA and is connected by the ligase. (sticky
    end to sticky end)
  • 4. The recombinant DNA is inserted into a
    bacterium which carries out its function inside
    the larger organism.
  • 5. When the DNA becomes active it directs the
    body to construct distinct proteins which carry
    out the genes function.

Examples of Genetic Engineering
Spider Silk
  • Creation of artificial spider silk by Nexia, a
    biotech company
  • Spider silk protein created by goats in their
    milk, then spun into silk
  • However, still not comparable to actual

  • Insulinoriginally isolated from cows and pigs
  • 1982 Humulin, a biosynthetic human insulin
  • Attempting to optimize insulin production by
    expressing them in different things
  • Insert human insulin gene into bacteria

  • Directed evolution of penicillin strains
  • Inserted genes to make erythromycin (penicillin
    substitute) into E Coli, which totally worked

Why do weGenetically Engineer Foods?
  • Biotechnology is needed to feed the growing
    population of the world, especially the Third
  • Reduced chemical inputs, which will be good for
    the environment.
  • Genetic Engineering creates better yields in
    foods by giving them
  • Pest resistance
  • Herbicide tolerance
  • Disease resistance
  • Cold/drought tolerance
  • More nutrition
  • Ability to replenish the soil they were grown in.

Engineered food-process
  • Biochemical scissors called restriction enzymes
    are used to cut the strings of DNA in different
    places and select the required genes. These genes
    are usually then inserted into circular pieces of
    DNA found in bacteria. The bacteria reproduce
    rapidly and within a short time thousands of
    identical copies can be made of the new gene.
  • There are now two principal methods that can be
    used to force the new gene into the DNA of the
    plant that is to be engineered. A ferry is made
    with a piece of genetic material taken from a
    virus or a bacterium. This is used to infect the
    plant and in doing so smuggle the new gene into
    the plants own DNA. Or, the genes are coated
    onto large numbers of tiny gold pellets which are
    fired with a special gun into a layer of cells
    taken from the recipient organism, with any luck
    finding a hit somewhere in the DNA in the nucleus
    of the cells.
  • Genetically engineered animals and fish are
    produced by microinjection. Fertilized eggs are
    injected with new genes which will, in some
    cases, enter the chromosomes and be incorporated
    into the animals own DNA. Because the techniques
    used to transfer genes have a low success rate,
    the scientists need to be able to find out which
    of the cells have taken up the new DNA. So,
    before the gene is transferred, a marker gene
    is attached which codes for resistance to an

Genetic Engineered Foods Fears
  • "Human health effects can include higher risks of
    toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance,
    immune-suppression and cancer. As for
    environmental impacts, the use of genetic
    engineering in agriculture could lead to
    uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening
    numerous microbial, plant and animal species with
    extinction, and the potential contamination of
    non-genetically engineered life forms with novel
    and possibly hazardous genetic material."
  • Other possible problems
  • Unintended harm to other organisms
  • Reduced effectiveness of pesticides
  • Gene transfer to non-target species
  • Allergies
  • Unknown effects

Genetic Engineer Foods
Case Study
  • Pusztai potato data
  • Pusztai reportedly fed rats potatoes genetically
    modified to have snowdrop lectin (which is an
    insecticide). the rats had stunted growth
    immune system damage
  • Controversy confusion over the lectin was from
    snowdrop (cool) or jackbean (poisonous)
  • research republished in october 1999, reviewed by
    6 reviewers. the paper did not mention stunted
    growth or immunity issues, but reported that rats
    fed on potatoes genetically modified with the
    snowdrop lectin had "thickening in the mucosal
    lining of their colon and their jejunum" when
    compared with rats fed on non modified potatoes
  • While the implications of this study are
    alarming, the study had a number of holes and its
    results cannot be taken to reflect for Genetic

Genetic Engineered Foods
Official Word on Safety
  • GM foods are highly regulated and they must pass
    extensive safety testing before reaching market.
  • GM foods have been consumed by hundreds of
    millions of people so far with no reported health
    problems to date.
  • Still it is possible that genetic engineering can
    unintentionally transfer allergens between foods.
    Also Genetic Engineering can create new
  • Genetic Engineering has only been around for 15
    years. There are worries that long-term problems
    involving GM foods could be in our future.

Medical uses of Genetic Engineering
  • Pigs are often chosen as transgenic animals
    because their physiology and organ size are so
    similar to humans. The hope is that pig organs
    can be used for organ transplantation, known as
  • This will alleviating the shortage of human
    hearts and kidneys, which are in scarce supply.
  • Researchers are also exploring the use of cell
    transplantation therapy for patients with spinal
    cord injury or Parkinsons disease. There are
    several drawbacks to xenotransplantation.
  • Additionally, commercial companies seek to derive
    therapeutic proteins, such as monoclonal
    antibodies, from the milk of transgenic cows,
    goats, rabbits, and mice and use them to
    administer drugs in treatment of rheumatoid
    arthritis, cancer, and other autoimmune

Medical uses of Genetic Engineering 2
  • Other uses of this transgenic combination include
    growing tissue on a scaffolding, or supporting
    framework. This then can be used as a temporary
    skin substitute for healing wounds or burns or as
    replacement cartilage, heart valves,
    cerebrospinal shunts, or even collagen tubes to
    guide re-growth of nerves that have been injured.

Medical uses of Genetic Engineering 3
  • Scientists harvest stem cells that can be used to
    study human development and to treat disease.
    Stem cells are important to biomedical
    researchers because they can be used to generate
    virtually any type of specialized cell in the
    human body. The extraction process destroys the
    embryo, which raises a variety of ethical
  • Ex Stem cells since they are so versatile they
    can be created into cardiac tissue, spinal tissue
    and maybe even nerve tissue. Stem cells may be
    the key to curing diseases caused by the erosions
    of nerves such as Alzheimers and ALS.

Ethical problems
  • If the blending of nonhuman animal and human DNA
    results, intentionally or not, in trans-species
    entities possessing degrees of intelligence or
    sentience never before seen in nonhuman animals,
    should these entities be given rights and special
  • It is possible that in blending DNA of different
    species we might be making our subjects
    susceptible to new forms of disease.
  • Could we inadvertently create a super-disease?
  • Is it right for parents to genetically alter
    their children before birth?

What is Synthetic Biology
  • Foundational Ideas
  • Automated DNA Construction
  • Standards of Abstraction
  • Goals
  • Organization of genetic information
  • Registry of Standard Parts
  • Built up through iGEM
  • Open-source biological programming language
  • Scalable engineering framework

Banana Biobrick
Transcription terminator for the E.coli RNA
Ribosome binding site
Promoter (lacI regulated)
T1 from E. coli rrnB
alcohol acetyltransferase I converts isoamyl
alcohol to isoamyl acetate (banana odor)
Past projects
  • Synthetic blood
  • Banana E. coli
  • Arsenic biosensor
  • HIV Virotrap
  • Self-organized pattern formation