In my high school biology class my teacher was teaching us all about DNA. Not just DNA alone, but the whole idea of genetic engineering. Union of Concerned Scientists say, “genetic engineering is a set of technologies used to change the genetic makeup of cells, including the transfer of genes within and across species boundaries to produce improved or novel organisms.” My class watched the movie, “Code of the Killer,” which told a true story of local murder scenes that led to a major discovery. Alec Jeffreys was a scientist who developed techniques for DNA fingerprinting and DNA profiling. His discovery helped find the killer of these murder scenes and would help for future use in crime. Using these techniques people can also find out who is who. In other words, if there was a custody dispute whether the father was actually blood related to the child these techniques would be applied. In the end, there would be a paper showing lines that were maybe different or matched up with others. DNA is a complicated structure made up of nucleotides. It’s function is to reproduce all known living organisms and many viruses. The very backbone of a DNA chain is formed by sugars and phosphates. Also in about every sample DNA, the percentages of guanine and cytosine are almost equal. Yet, the best way of picturing a DNA sequence in your mind is to i
magine two twisted ladders.
In order to truly do a lab with genetic
engineering involved, there are specific tools needed. The most important tool is a micropipette; a very fine pipette for measuring, transferring, or injecting very small quantities of liquid. Just imagine a measured quantity of water from a raindrop; it’s that tiny!! With this tool, it’s crucial to have a steady hand while holding one. When using a micropipette in a lab the settings for µL (micro liters) depends on how much or little the lab requires. To adjust these settings all there is to it is to simply twist the knob to whatever the µL is. However, to take the liquid in the pipette there’s a button to press and once the liquid is in, press again to release.
The way my class learned about genetic engineering was doing genetic engineering labs. We used the micropipette and other
tools involved to manipulate DNA. We took suspects (dogs) with actual evidence (drool) and put the dog’s’ DNA from their drool into the micropipette and released it into wells of a plate. Then the evidence was put in a well right next to the suspects and soon after we found out which suspect is the one who’s drool is the evidence. We did this by looking at the the results of gel electrophoresis. Gel electrophoresis is process that uses electricity to separate DNA fragments by size as they migrate through a gel matrix. Gel electrophoresis can be used to separate DNA fragments. Using a pipette, DNA samples are loaded into slots made in the agarose gel. The results were colors and compared which colors matched up with the evidence.
One way genetic engineering can help in our life is that it can treat people with diabetes. Not necessarily wipe out diabetes for good but, help people cope with the condition. Levels of glucose in the blood can become dangerously high when it comes to diabetes. This disease can also result from the body’s inability to make sufficient insulin or to effectively use the insulin that it does produce; thus, higher demand for insulin. Nevertheless, genetic engineering can solve this problem for a higher demand for it can make insulin. This is done by taking plasmids from E. coli and adding restriction enzymes, adding ligase and human gene to the plasmid, and then mixing the recombinant plasmid with bacteria; the plasmids should enter the bacteria cell through transformation. After transformation is done and the bacteria has grown, human insulin is produced. That’s all there is for genetic engineering in my class.
I’m proud to say that I had the opportunity to be in a classroom full of equipment that not many students can work with. It was a great experience to open my eyes for jobs that I didn’t even know existed for that matter. The fact that I can tell people that I have worked with biotechnology hands on and be ahead of the game, regarding my experience and education at only fourteen years old. I can’t imagine how many other things there are out there to help me become a more prepared and better person.
Scientists, Union Of Concerned. What Is Genetic Engineering? | Union of Concerned Scientists. Available at: http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering/what-is-genetic-engineering.html#.Vmx0n4TFtmB, Last accessed 12th December 2015 link