Genetic Engineering: The Rise of Science’s Pride and Joy
Science is a creature that continues to evolve at a much higher rate than the beings that gave it birth. The transformation time from tree shrew, to ape, to human far exceeds the time from analytical engine, to calculator, to computer. But science in the past has always remained distant. It has allowed for advances in production, transportation, and even entertainment, but never in history will science be able to so deeply affect our lives as genetic engineering will undoubtedly do. With the birth of this new technology, scientific extremists and ...view middle of the document...
These early studies concluded that each organism has two sets of character determinants, or genes (Stableford 16). For instance, in regards to eye color, a child could receive one set of genes from his father that were encoded one blue, and the other brown. The same child could also receive two brown genes from his mother. The conclusion for this inheritance would be the child has a three in four chance of having brown eyes, and a one in three chance of having blue eyes (Stableford 16).
Genes are transmitted through chromosomes that reside in the nucleus of every living organism's cells. Each chromosome is made up of fine strands of deoxyribonucleic acids, or DNA. The information carried on the DNA determines the cells function within the organism. Sex cells are the only cells that contain a complete DNA map of the organism; therefore, "the structure of a DNA molecule or combination of DNA molecules determines the shape, form, and function of the organism's offspring " (Lewin 1). DNA discovery is attributed to the research of three scientists, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and James Dewey Watson in 1951. They were all later accredited with the Nobel Price in physiology and medicine in 1962 (Lewin 1). "The new science of genetic engineering aims to take a dramatic short cut in the slow process of evolution" (Stableford 25). In essence, scientists aim to remove one gene from an organism's DNA, and place it into the DNA of another organism. This would create a new DNA strand, full of new encoded instructions; a strand that would have taken Mother Nature millions of years of natural selection to develop. Isolating and removing a desired gene from a DNA strand involves many different tools. Exposing it to ultra-high-frequency sound waves can break up DNA, but this is an extremely inaccurate way of isolating a desirable DNA section (Stableford 26). A more accurate way of DNA splicing is the use of "restriction enzymes, which are produced by various species of bacteria" (Clarke 1). The restriction enzymes cut the DNA strand at a particular location called a nucleotide base, which makes up a DNA molecule. Now that the desired portion of the DNA is cut out, it can be joined to another strand of DNA by using enzymes called ligases.
The final important step in the creation of a new DNA strand is giving it the ability to self-replicate. Using special pieces of DNA, called vectors, that permit the generation of multiple copies of a total DNA strand and fusing it to the newly created DNA structure can accomplish this. Another newly developed method, called polymerase chain reaction, allows for faster replication of DNA strands and does not require the use of vectors (Clarke 1). The possibilities of genetic engineering are endless. Once the power to control the instructions given to a single cell is mastered anything can be accomplished.
Furthermore, every new idea is faced with both criticism and applause and genetic engineering proves no...