Biotechnology - Future Outlook Future Lifespan

Topics: DNA, Genetics, Human Genome Project Pages: 11 (4399 words) Published: May 4, 2013
I'm sure you have heard of the Biotechnology field before. It is the field in which living organisms are modified genetically in order to enhance them to make useful products. This has been used widely in the agriculture industry in the past decade with lots of controversy surrounding it. Maybe, you have heard of the Human Genome Project that was completed in April of 2003. It is when the first Human Genome was sequenced. This too is a part of the Biotechnology field and with the Human Genome Project being completed it brings to focus what I am talking to you about today. Sequencing the Genome has begun the process of unlocking all the secrets hidden inside the most basic, essential part of us and understanding it is equivalent to understanding life. This development will lead us to uncovering the secrets behind all diseases and create a revolution in the medical industry which will lead to significantly extending our life expectancy. The Human Genome Project is a milestone in human history; its importance can be compared to the start of the industrial revolution or the creation of the atomic bomb; it’s that important. The Human Genome Project has allowed us to process the very first Human Genome. The genome, if you don't know, is the part of you that holds all of the directions to creating you. The Genome is most basically your entire DNA put out into a string of letters - you have over 3.2 billion letters in your genome a combination of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts. These letters are in each of your cells and hold the information for what your body does. Synthetic Biology is field that has a lot of potential; just think about what is the most advanced technology in the world? Well the word Technology means the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area. *** It is our genome if you think about it; the genome is a technology that is practically applied to create you! So the prospect of us creating life and modifying in a way that’s different than nature had evolved it for the production of useful applications is powerful. I recently watched a documentary in which there is a new hybrid animal called a spider-sheep . These spider-sheep are raised by Utah State University Professor Randy Lewis. When introduced to the sheep, they locked perfectly normal. They only had one gene modified and that was taken from a silk-producing spider to produce a protein that caused the production of silk. This silk is very rare and only one type of spider in the world can produce it. The silk is valuable because it is one of the strongest substances known to man, stronger than man-made Kevlar and if you don't know what that is it's the material used for bulletproof vests. So it's kind of a big deal to get this silk. The problem is that farming the spiders is impossible because they are cannibalistic and so the area needed to grow a farm full of spiders is not viable. So the solution was to take the unique gene and place it in the sheep. (BBC – Horizon :Playing God 2012@@@) When placed in the sheep everything is absolutely the same with the sheep. No, it doesn't glow green in at night and it doesn't have 8 legs (I'm sorry to have to break the news to you!) It secretes an extra protein in its milk and the milk when it comes out still looks like ordinary sheep’s milk. The protein is in the milk but, it needs to be taken to a lab and the other parts of the milk excluding the protein need to be separated. Then once that is done what’s left is the silk. It looks exactly like the spider's silk. This silk can be used in medical applications “The silk could be used for eye sutures, as well as for certain facial injuries. There is even research on jaw repair, especially for veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.” (National Science Foundation 2010) They work very well. This is just a single example of how synthetic biology is being put into use. The whole premise behind synthetic biology is to turn biology into an engineerable...
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