How DNA Sequencing Have Changed Our Lives
Humans have achieved great strides in the field of biology. They have developed methods to observe changes in atomic levels in biological organisms. The decoding of the DNA strand led to a revolution. It helped them understand the origin of life, how life evolved on earth, and how the latest technology can edit DNA to make life-altering changes in living organisms.
What Is DNA Sequencing?
It is the process of determining the sequence of nucleotides in the DNA. The canonical structure of DNA has four bases: thymine (T), adenine (A), cytosine (C), and guanine (G). The structure of these bases decides the characteristics of its host.
Initially, DNA sequencing was done using two-dimensional chromatography. Modern-day DNA Sequencers have made it a lot easier and quicker.
Applications of DNA Sequencing
DNA sequencing is being used in molecular biology to study the structure of the DNA and how it can affect genes, plus it also finds the association of diseases and effects of drugs in targeted therapy.
Evolutionary studies have been helped greatly by DNA sequencing. It has made it easier for scientists to research the origins of life. This has helped us in categorizing the animal kingdom including humans into different classes.
The study of DNA Sequencing is also helping us fight diseases such as COVID-19. DNA sequencing helped scientists to sequence the RNA of this virus. As a result, they can now make a vaccine that can be used to protect the human population.
Not only this but the sequencing can also help analyze the evolving variants of the virus and then they can edit the vaccine according to the needs. So it tells us how important it is in containing the epidemic.
Modern medicines are being developed to be more effective and DNA sequencing can help us make medicine that reduces the chances of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria populations.
Crime investigation has used forensics of blood, fingerprints, and saliva to identify criminals. This method is foolproof because every living organism has unique DNA.
How Scientists Can Produce DNA Sequences of Their Own Choice
The method of producing an edited version of DNA is called Recombinant DNA. It is produced by combining DNA from multiple sources. The resultant DNA sequence is a sequence that was previously non-existent in the Genome.
It is done using the molecular cloning process. The other method is a polymerase chain reaction.
These edited sequences have led to genetic engineering. Now humans can genetically modify the cells of any living thing. Resulting in the introduction of genetically modified food crops, which have high yield, better resistance against diseases, and more resistance to ever-changing climatic factors.
Genetically modified organisms are also being researched. Dolly the sheep was the first-ever animal to be cloned. Currently, methods are being developed to grow human organs inside genetically engineered pigs.
The Use Of Recombinant Protein Expression
The production of proteins using recombinant technologies has increased the yields and significantly improved the characteristics of it in the host organisms. The cultured cell produces the desired protein with high accuracy.
The most common types of expression system are given below:
- Bacterial protein expression systems: They are used particularly for their short doubling time. Which means that they can replicate faster than other expression systems. The mediums required for their culture are not expensive and the expertise to speed up the biological process is quite straightforward.
- Yeast protein expression systems: It is a highly developed system. It is easy to use plus highly cost-effective. They can carry specially crafted plasmids that can be inserted with the required gene sequence. The resultant protein can be scaled up according to our needs.
- Mammalian Cell expression systems: They are highly challenging to develop and edit. They require scaling times of up to 2-3 months. The efficiency and yields are lesser than other methods. All protein folding and most authentic post-translational modifications are possible.
- Another new protein expression system incorporating Yeast cells is pichia pastoris expression. The production of heterologous protein is quite easy and simple. It can be produced on both a small scale or a large scale. The genetic manipulation of P. pastoris is similar to that of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is one of the most well-studied yeast model organisms.
Why Do We Need Recombinant Proteins
These are important for studying the intricacies of biological reactions between proteins. They provide us with therapeutic properties to fight diseases. They have been used for therapy against Cancer, Diabetes, and other infectious diseases.
These proteins are much better than naturally occurring proteins because they do not have off-target side effects. They can be developed in shorter periods.
They have become a multi-billion dollar industry so it provides the vital capital for more research and development in this field.
The Implications of DNA sequencing
No one can object that DNA sequencing has helped us fight off diseases, helped us increase global food production, and increased human understanding regarding life on Earth.
But on the other hand, DNA sequencing has led us to a moral and ethical dilemma. The research for finding different cures for untreatable diseases has led to experiments on animals that are most of the time cruel.
The concept of genetic engineering revolves around trial and error. They genetically modify embryos of test animals to get desired results but most of them do not end well. The resulting offspring die at birth or they have so many defects that they die a slow painful death. The experimentation for harvesting organs from animals such as pigs is another example.
The scientific community should be provided with a strict set of guidelines to adhere to. The balance of life on our planet is fragile and it can get disturbed if a man-made mutation escapes the confinements of a research lab.
The availability of such resources should also be monitored because any rogue country or organization can weaponize it. There should be debate and dialogue regarding biological warfare and how it can be prevented.
In short, the correct use of this technology will help us reach new heights as a civilization if practiced within ethical and moral boundaries.