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 Medicine- DNA

medicalSome of the most promising and powerful applications of genetic engineering are in the field of medicine. Researchers are using it to diagnose and predict disease, and to develop therapies and drugs to treat devastating diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis. Explore more about ways genetic engineering techniques can be used for medical purposes.

Recombinant DNA
Recombinant DNA is one of the core techniques of genetic engineering. It is the process of removing DNA from one organism and inserting it into the DNA of another organism, giving it new traits. Recombinant DNA can be used to make crops resistant to pests or disease, it can be used to make livestock leaner or larger. In medicine, the technique can be used to develop drugs, vaccines, and to reproduce important human hormones and proteins. By engineering human DNA into a host organism, that organism can be turned into a factory for important medical products. Insulin production is an excellent example of the recombinant DNA process. Host organisms can range from bacteria like E. coli, to plants, to animals.

Genetically Engineered Pharmaceuticals

  • insulin for diabetics
  • factor VIII for males suffering from hemophilia A
  • factor IX for hemophilia B
  • human growth hormone (GH)
  • erythropoietin (EPO) for treating anemia
  • three types of interferons - fight viral infections
  • several interleukins
  • granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) for stimulating the bone marrow after a bone
    marrow transplant
  • tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) for dissolving blood clots
  • adenosine deaminase (ADA) for treating some forms of
  • severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
  • angiostatin and endostatin for trials as anti-cancer drugs
  • parathyroid hormone


Explore More: Genetic Engineering
Copyright 2004, Iowa Public Television
The Explore More project is supported by funds from the
Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust
and the USDE Star Schools Program.


Genetically Engineered Insulin
The resulting insulin is so close to human insulin that it is virtually impossible to distinguish one from the other. More