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Genetic engineering

What is genetic engineering?

Deliberately altering the DNA of an organism to change it’s characteristics in some specific way.

Could be for any kind of organism, e.g. virus, bacteria, oak tree, blue whale.

Simplest form: Changing just one DNA base pair (A-T, or C-G)

More complex form: inserting or deleting a long sequence of base pairs, sometimes removing or adding entire genes.

One may take a sequence of DNA from one organism and insert it into a different organism.

Genetic engineering

Consider transferring a gene from a spider into a cow.

The following has been excerpted from “Synthetic biology and the rise of the ‘spider-goats'”, Adam Rutherford, 1/14/2012, The Guardian (UK)

“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.”


{ Text below is from bioninja.com, genetics. }

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)



All mammals have a set of proteins that let them clot blood. Without those, we’d keep bleeding from any internal or external injury. This would lead to death. One of these proteins is called Factor IX Clotting Protein.

blood clots platelets and fibrin

However, some people a mutated version of Factor IX Clotting Protein

This mutation causes the protein to fold incorrectly, and become non-functional. Thus it doesn’t help stop bleeding. Very dangerous.

Solution: Copy a correct 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”

This protein then can be given to hemophiliacs when they need aide.

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

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