Genetic Engineering

What is genetic engineering?

Genetic engineering, sometimes called genetic modification, utilizes laboratory-based techniques to alter an organism’s DNA or genetic information. This is generally done to enhance certain traits or capabilities of the organism.

Gene therapy is a subcategory of genetic engineering. While both involve altering the genetic makeup of organisms, gene therapy is specifically performed to correct genetic defects in order to prevent or cure genetic diseases.

Genetic engineering can also involve:

  • Changing a single base pair (C-G or A-T)
  • Adding a new segment of DNA
  • Deleting a region of DNA

Genetic engineering utilized to genetically modify livestock and plants and to produce cancer therapies is known as transgenics.

However, genetic engineering has prompted some ethical concerns when applied to humans, particularly around enhancing “desirable” characteristics, “improving” complex human traits, or potentially passing a gene on to future generations.

How does genetic engineering improve healthcare?

Genetic engineering changes an organism’s DNA, which can be helpful within the healthcare field. For instance, genetically engineered bacteria and other microorganisms are used to produce human growth hormone, human insulin, and other pharmaceuticals.

Furthermore, gene therapy, a type of genetic engineering, utilizes this technology to correct genetic defects, which can help prevent and treat disease.