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Genetic engineering


Why have we sequenced the complete human genome?
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What are some outcomes of doing this?

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international cooperative venture established to sequence the 3 billion base pair (~25,000 genes) in the human genome. The outcomes  include:

Mapping: We now know the number, location and basic sequence of human genes

Screening: This has allowed for the production of specific gene probes to detect sufferers and carriers of genetic disease conditions

Medicine: With the discovery of new proteins and their functions, we can develop improved treatments (pharmacogenetics and rational drug design)

Ancestry: It will give us improved insight into the origins, evolution and historical migratory patterns of humans

Genetic engineering

What happens if we transfer a gene from one organism, into a different organism? For instance, put a gene for spider silk into a goat?


That gene will still work, and create the exact same protein, but in the new animal.
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“We’re interested in dragline silk – the silk that spiders catch themselves with when they fall,” he tells me in his midwest lilt. “It’s stronger than Kevlar. It really has some amazing properties for any kind of a fibre.”

“The trouble is, you can’t farm spiders,” Randy says with an almost comic deadpan face. “They’re very cannibalistic.”

“In the medical field, we already know that we can produce spider silk that’s good enough to be used in ligament repair,” he tells me.

“We already know we can make it strong enough as an elastic.
We’ve done some studies that show that you can put it in the body,
and you don’t get inflammation and get ill. We hope within a couple of years that we’re going to be testing to see exactly the best designs and the best materials we can make from it.”



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When genes are transferred between species, the amino acid sequence of polypeptides translated from them is unchanged because the genetic code is universal

The genetic code is universal, meaning that for every living organism the same codons code for the same amino acids (there are a few rare exceptions)

This means that the genetic information from one organism could be translated by another (i.e. it is theoretically transferable)



(disease in which our blood won’t clot.)

Some people have a mutant version of a necessary protein: Human Factor IX Clotting Protein

Without it one doesn’t stop bleeding. Very dangerous.

Solution: Copy a good version of this gene from a human.

Transfer this gene into a sheep.

The sheep will express this protein, as if it is it’s own natural gene.

This protein comes out in the Sheep’s milk – “Transgenic Sheep Milk”

Treating Haemophilia via the Isolation of Human Factor IX Clotting Protein from Transgenic Sheep Milk

Treating Haemophilia via the Isolation of Human Factor IX Clotting Protein from Transgenic Sheep Milk

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