Biotechnology is a broad subject and it comprises a collection of techniques or processors that are use living organisms, cells and biological molecules. It is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products. It has so many uses in medicine applications. In this tutorial, we will discuss followings about biotechnology.
Written by: M. Jithmika Piyumika, (undergraduate), Ayurweda Medicine and Surgery, Institute of Indegenous Medicine, University of Colombo
Biotechnology is a specific technology. It is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products.
It is depending on the tools and applications, is often overlaps with fields of,
Enhancing and improving food supply, health, environment and more.
Term "Biotechnology" was coined by Hungarian agriculturist Karl Ereky. Two major branches of biotechnology according to technology are given below.
This technology use of processes of living organisms. (use entire organism or part of the organisms)
Use to improve that particular organism.
Modified DNA molecule was created by combining DNA form two unrelated organisms.
This system is changing of an organism without altering genetic material. This technology uses natural genetic variation of a complete organism to change their features.
This technology use to improve it to be more productive. (Example - Cloning).
Cloning is the producing a new organism from cells of an existing organism. These new organisms will be genetically identical to the exiting organism.
Example for cloning - Dolly the female sheep - Cloned from an adult somatic cell.
Technique : Genetic engineering
Specific trait of an organism isolated, cut and moved in to a cell of another organism. Organisms created by genetic engineering is called as "TRANSGENEIC". Example for Transgenic organisms is genetically modified plant.
This gene basically used in scientific research in medicine. Special gene - GFP -(Green Fluorescent Protein)
GFP gene is frequently used as reporter of expression.
Example for GFP - Monkeys were engineered to have the gene for neurodegenerative genetic disorder Huntington's Disease, The gene was tagged with GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein).
Transgenic is a segment of DNA containing a gene sequence. It has been isolated from one organism. Then it is introduced into a different organism by means of genetic engineering technique.
Introduction of a transgenic has the potential to change the phenotype of an organism.
Mainly used for Therapeutic Diagnostics. It helps to identify cause of disease, prevent and cure the disease.
This is a DNA or RNA based diagnostics. By using this technique we can diagnosis of infectious diseases and genetic disorders.
Each organism has unique DNA regions. Such unique regions are selectively PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) amplified to detect the presence of organism in a clinical specimen.
What is the latest method of molecular diagnostics? - DNA chips
Tagged DNA on a microchip made of glass or silicon. Then allows thousands of genes to analyze on a single chip.
What are therapeutics? - It help products to prevent diseases and maintain good health.
Action of therapeutics of medical biotechnology is,
Production of proteins to be used as therapeutic drugs or vaccines .There are two systems for that. (gene therapy and stifling a harmful gene.) Introduction of normal gene to replace a defective gene is called gene therapy and blocking the action of a harmful gene is called stifling a harmful gene.
This therapy is used to replacement of a defective gene with a normal gene. Examples for that are applied in ADA (Adenosine demitasse) deficiency, HIV, cancer, Cystic fibrosis etc. Example is given below.
Stifling a harmful gene means how to block the action of a harmful gene. We can do it by using fake promoters to divert transcription factors and binding anti-sense RNA to stop protein synthesis.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug produced in the milk of genetically engineered animals.
It is unspecialized cells that have ability to become other cell types. It is having capability specializing themselves into another type.
It is an intervention strategy that introduces new adult stem cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury. Restoration of organ function achieved by the injection of Healthy Functional replacement manufactured from human stem cells.
It still in experimental stages or costly.
It is plant biotechnology. It improves plants and plant products. It is used for the creation of transgenic plants.
Agrobacterium tumefactions - Causative agent for crown gall disease (the formation of tumors)
It is caused by the insertion of a small segment of DNA (T-DNA, for 'transfer DNA'), from a plasmid, into the plant cell.
Problem: Areas with a shortage of dietary vitamin A, a deficiency which is estimated to kill 670,000 children under 5 each year.
As an example, Golden Rice can be given and many developing countries staple food is Rice. Genetically engineered rice is rich with more nutritious with additional vitamins.
Creation of Golden rice - Golden rice was designed to produce a precursor of vitamin A, beta-carotene, in the edible part of rice, the endosperm.
Created by transforming rice with two beta-carotene biosynthesis genes:
The psy and ctrl genes were transformed in to the rice nuclear genome and placed under the control of an endosperm- specific promoter, so they are only expressed in the endosperm.