Genetic engineering and its Applications

May 27th, 2016
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Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
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The commercialization of genetic engineering

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Genetic engineering and its ApplicationsPhoto by: Gernot KrautbergerGenetic engineering is any process by which genetic material (the building blocks of heredity) ischanged in such a way as to make possible the production of new substances or new functions.As an example, biologists have now learned how to transplant the gene that produces light in afirefly into tobacco plants. The function of that genethe production of lighthas been addedto the normal list of functions of the tobacco plants.The chemical structure of genesGenetic engineering became possible only when scientists had discovered exactly what is a gene.Prior to the 1950s, the term gene was used to stand for a unit by which some geneticcharacteristic was transmitted from one generation to the next. Biologists talked about a "gene"for hair color, although they really had no idea as to what that gene was or what it looked like.That situation changed dramatically in 1953. The English chemist Francis Crick (1916 ) and theAmerican biologist James Watson (1928 ) determined a chemical explanation for a gene. Crickand Watson discovered the chemical structure for large, complex molecules that occur in thenuclei of all living cells, known as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).DNA molecules, Crick and Watson announced, are very long chains or units made of acombination of a simple sugar and a phosphate group.Words to KnowAmino acid: An organic compound from which proteins are made.DNA (deoxyribon

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