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Recombinant cells are produced by inserting foreign genes into genetic code, or DNA. The process of recombination involves a vector, or gene carrier, that is inserted into a host cell. From this process, a variety of DNA technologies have been developed. The benefits of recombinant DNA include improvements in cancer research, increased fertility, vaccine production, diabetes treatment and the production of resilient, enriched and plentiful foods.
Through analyzing the genetic differences between normal cells and cancer cells, scientists are attempting to learn which genes are responsible for the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells, as well as the ways in which these genes are activated or inactivated. According to geneticist Dr. James Frieson, it is possible to regulate a cell's production of proteins by splicing portions of genetic code that affect that cell's regulatory functions. If this method could be applied to cancerous cells through recombinant DNA technology, it may be able to halt uncontrolled cell growth.
Recombinant DNA has a role in food production for a number of plant and animal products. For crops, recombinant DNA has been used to create increased resistance to viruses/pests, more resilience in the face of harsh environmental conditions and added convenience for packaging and shipping. An example for use with animals is bovine somatotropin (bST), a hormone that can be bacterially inserted in dairy cows in order to increase milk production.
Recombinant DNA technology is used to produce hormones for women with fertility issues. Recombinant human follicle stimulating hormone (r-hFSH), recombinant luteinizing hormone (r-hLH) and recombinant human chorionic gonadotropin (r-hCG) are all hormones that facilitate the proper functioning of ovulation and follicular maturation necessary for fertilization to become a success. As opposed to earlier methods of hormone production, recombinant DNA technology will bring about a higher efficacy, easier access and safer, less invasive infertility treatments.
Recombinant DNA is used in vaccines that involve the direct injection of genetic material into the human body. This genetic material is in the form of a plasmid, or loop of DNA, from the foreign antigen that is the target of the vaccination. After it is injected through our muscle tissue, our cells take in the DNA and begin to produce the foreign proteins encoded in the plasmids. These proteins promote our bodies' immune responses to the targeted antigen. DNA vaccinations could become less costly to produce, are potentially safer and are theoretically longer lasting than alternative forms of vaccinations.
Recombinant DNA can be used to treat a variety of other diseases and conditions. The production of insulin through recombinant DNA technology has been especially effective for treating diabetes patients. Today, scientists are able to create human insulin that is identical to pancreatic insulin, thereby leading to the the safest and purest forms of insulin on the market.