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Genetic Engineering Bioethics

Genetic Engineering Bioethics. What is Genetic Engineering? basic definition: genetic engineering is the direct manipulation of an organism's genes

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

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

  • Dominance and segregation of traitsMendel crossed peas and mice of different varieties.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 HeredityHeredity factors do not combine; they are passed intactEx= 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 offspringDifferent sets of offspring from the same parents receive different sets of hereditary factorsEx= siblings are not identical, their differences come from the inheritance of different genes from their parents.

  • DNADiscovered in 1869James 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 EngineeringWe 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 Engineering1. 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 EngineeringCreation of artificial spider silk by Nexia, a biotech companySpider silk protein created by goats in their milk, then spun into silkHowever, still not comparable to actual spidersilk

    Spider Silk

  • InsulinInsulinoriginally isolated from cows and pigs1982 Humulin, a biosynthetic human insulinAttempting to optimize insulin production by expressing them in different thingsInsert human insulin gene into bacteria

  • PenicillinDirected evolution of penicillin strainsInserted 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 World.Reduced chemical inputs, which will be good for the environment.Genetic Engineering creates better yields in foods by giving them:Pest resistanceHerbicide toleranceDisease resistanceCold/drought toleranceMore nutritionAbility to replenish the soil they were grown in.

  • Engineered food-processBiochemical 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 antibiotic.

  • 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." (http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/geneticall7.cfm)Other possible problems:Unintended harm to other organismsReduced effectiveness of pesticidesGene transfer to non-target speciesAllergiesUnknown effects

  • Genetic Engineer Foods Pusztai potato dataPusztai reportedly fed rats potatoes genetically modified to have snowdrop lectin (which is an insecticide). the rats had stunted growth + immune system damageControversy: 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 potatoesWhile the implications of this study are alarming, the study had a number of holes and its results cannot be taken to reflect for Genetic Engineering.

    Case Study

  • Genetic Engineered FoodsGM 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 allergens.Genetic Engineering has only been around for 15 years. There are worries that long-term problems involving GM foods could be in our future. Official Word on Safety

  • Medical uses of Genetic EngineeringPigs 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 xenotransplantation.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 disorders.9

  • Medical uses of Genetic Engineering 2Other 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 3Scientists 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 concerns. 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 problemsIf 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 protections?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 IdeasAutomated DNA ConstructionStandards of Abstraction

    GoalsOrganization of genetic informationRegistry of Standard PartsBuilt up through iGEMOpen-source biological programming languageScalable engineering framework

  • Abstraction

  • Banana BiobrickPromoter (lacI regulated)Ribosome binding sitealcohol acetyltransferase I; converts isoamyl alcohol to isoamyl acetate (banana odor) T1 from E. coli rrnB Transcription terminator for the E.coli RNA polymerase

  • Past projectsSynthetic bloodBanana E. coliArsenic biosensorHIV VirotrapSelf-organized pattern formation

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