Biotechnology uses techniques to modify biological systems by genetic engineering or genetic modification and it is the direct manipulation of an organism’s genome. The DNA of interest can be generated by the technique called molecular cloning. In molecular cloning, the DNA of interest first of all copied from the source genome i.e. most importantly higher organisms or plants and then inserted into the host organism. Gene targeting is a different technique that uses homologous recombination to change an endogenous gene, and can be used to delete a gene, remove exons, add a gene, or introduce point mutations.
Genetic engineering techniques have been applied in numerous fields including research, agriculture, industrial biotechnology, and medicine. The organism that is generated through genetic engineering is called genetically modified organism (GMO). The first modified organism was bacteria and in 1982 the insulin producing bacteria were commercialized.
Bioengineering in modification of plants: The whole idea behind plants genome modification was to provide the sufficient quantity of particular crop with higher nutrition value or additional value with the existing. Plants have been modified for insect protection, herbicide resistance, virus resistance, enhanced nutrition, tolerance to environmental pressures and the production of edible vaccines. Most commercialized GMO’s are insect resistant and/or herbicide tolerant crop plants.
Bioengineering in medicine: In medicine genetic engineering has been used to mass-produce insulin (to treat diabetes), human growth hormones, follistim (for treating infertility), anti- hemophilic factors, vaccines and many other drugs. Vaccination generally involves injecting weak, live, killed or inactivated forms of viruses or their toxins into the person being immunized. But the main problem of these vaccines are associated with accidental improper inactivation of the organism in vaccine. Now genetically engineered viruses are being developed that can still confer immunity, but lack the infectious factor.
Bioengineering in food technology: Genetically modified foods are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA. The main crop plants, fruits, flowers everything can be modified by genetic engineering and all are available in the market. The vegetables expressing the animal proteins also available: one example is modified tomato which expresses milk proteins. In same way modified goat milk also available this expresses specific protein drug molecule to treat diseases. So to treat particular disease you have to drink the modified milk not the medicine which has lot of side effects.
Cows have been engineered to produce more protein in their milk to facilitate cheese production.
Another interesting use is the enzymes used in laundry detergent manufactured in GM cells.
Bioengineering in detoxification: Genetically modified bacterial and fungal species are now available which are useful to detoxify the environmental pollution, heavy metals in water and soil.