Human Genetic Engineering

Topics: DNA, Genetics, Gene Pages: 5 (1539 words) Published: October 8, 1999

What if you could design your child before it was even born? What if you could cut out any life threatening diseases, make sure that your child is not susceptible to smoking addictions or alcoholism, and then make your child genius? Would you? Are you asking yourself how this could be done? Have you ever considered human genetic engineering?

What is Human Genetic Engineering?

Lets start by looking at the cell and the source of heritable traits. We know that all organisms are made up by cells and that new cells can only spring from existing cells. Cell growth depends upon the production of new cells and within each cell exists DNA. DNA contains the hereditary instructions need for each organism to grow and develop. Every parental organism gives the correct amount of DNA to its offspring. Humans give their children twenty-three chromosomes from each of the parents.

DNA looks something like a twisted staircase, and when in a condensed form, each DNA molecule is called a chromosome. Genes are formed in pairs are located in these chromosomes. During reproduction the gene pairs are split apart and randomly passed on to the offspring. During the replication of the gene pairs chance events such as mutations, can change their structure and prompt evolution.

Through human interference we can compose our own evolution by using genetic engineering. By using this genetic engineering, scientist have the means to isolate, cut and split different genes from different species, and then amplify the number of copies of the gene that they are interested in.

This process has four steps. First, enzymes are used to cut DNA molecules into smaller fragments. Second, the fragments are inserted into a cloning device, such as plasmids. Third, the fragments that are wanted are identified, and then copied. Fourth the fragment is inserted back into the same organism or possibly into a different one.

Historically, humans have used artificial selection to pass on desirable traits in livestock. Now researchers are trying to identifying and map the specific traits passed on in the human DNA. The Human Genome Project is currently working their way though 3.2 million gene pairs that exist in the twenty three pairs of human chromosomes.

Oh, Happy Day for Genetic Engineering!

Researcher, James M. Wilson, a pioneer in the field and headed the Institute for Gene Therapy at Pnn., has published the first document showing that was possible to add a gene that could have therapeutic effects. Based on those findings, Wilson performed an experiment on a person suffering from hypercholesterolemia (FH). This certain disease forbids the liver from processing cholesterol.

The procedure consisted of taking a piece of the persons liver and injecting correct copies of the genes into the flawed liver cells, and placing the piece of liver back into the person. Two years later, the results showed that the corrected cells were thriving. As a result to the cells, the person had reduced their cholesterol by twenty percent.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF), is another disease that is taking to genetic therapy. If a corrected gene could somehow enter the cells that line the lungs, it will then start producing the critical proteins that CF patients need. This has been done, although in small quantities. These results, however, have raised hopes that sometime in the future, CF may be curable.

The parade of genetically engineered marvels, during the past recent years, has been shocking: "Flavr-Savr" tomatoes that stay fresher longer; "giant salmon" that grow 37 times faster than the normal fish; "transgenic" pigs that are injected with human genes which causes them to produce milk with human protein that prevents blood clotting; and "supermice" injected with rat growth genes which makes them grow twice their normal size, are just a few.

The goal of genetic engineering is to modify genes in helpful ways, but this manner...

Cited: California State University, Chico. Internet. CSUC Library. 21 Nov. 1998. Available

"Deoxyribonucleic acid." Taber 's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. 1989
Dillow, Gordon
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