Molecular Genetics: Biotech in the Real World

In this video from our course on molecular genetics, learn all about biotech in the real world.

BiologyMolecular Genetics
Scientific ProcessesImpact from Data

Transcript

00:11

A la Shmoop

00:14

[ clears throat ] All right, we're with Dr. Ruth Tennen

00:17

talking about biology and we're now gonna cover

00:20

applying biotech to the real world.

00:22

It's kind of what we've been talking about.

00:23

We're gonna take this to the next level.

00:25

So, Ruth, how are advances in molecular genetics

00:28

applied to medicine?

00:29

Walk us through, you know, molecular cloning

00:31

and gene therapy and some of the state of the art tools

00:34

that we apply these days.

00:36

Yeah, absolutely. So, one thing that we kind of got into

00:38

a little bit with the idea of making medicines

00:39

in bacteria - that's something that requires

00:41

recombinant DNA technology.

00:43

- Mm-hmm. - So making insulin for diabetes.

00:46

There's also -- Artemesinin is a drug that's important

00:49

for getting rid of malaria.

00:50

So that's something that's now being made in yeast.

00:53

So how does that work?

00:54

Is it like a blood thing?

00:57

Would it be injected into people so they're resistant

00:59

to a malaria...?

01:01

So, that's a good question.

01:01

I think, right now, it's used as a drug after you have it,

01:04

have gotten the disease.

01:06

But the idea is basically you take the components

01:08

that normally would make artemisinin in plants.

01:10

That's where it's normally derived from.

01:11

And you'd put all those genetic components into yeast cells

01:13

and then they would churn out the drug for you.

01:15

And then you could just purify the drug

01:16

- and give it to people who had malaria. - Hmm.

01:18

Wow, that's awesome.

01:20

What are some of the other things?

01:22

- Gene therapy, diagnosing diseases, vaccines. - Yep.

01:24

Can you walk us through a couple of examples

01:26

that, you know, are striking your head.

01:28

That sort of illustrate how these really, you know, work

01:31

- when they work well. - Sure, absolutely.

01:32

So, in the gene therapy arena...

01:34

So, one thing that people are working on.

01:36

People who have hemophilia often have problems.

01:38

They have mutations in their clotting factor.

01:40

Explain what hemophilia is.

01:41

Hemophilia is a blood disorder where your blood can't clot.

01:44

So you're at risk of bleeding and bruising and things like that.

01:46

- So, one little cut and you can bleed to death - Exactly.

01:49

- because you don't -- Okay. - Yep.

01:50

So, let's say normally, you have 100% of a clotting factor.

01:52

You really only need about 10% and you can function just fine.

01:55

And so the idea that you could deliver

01:57

using gene therapy. So you put the clotting factor gene

02:00

into a plasmid, or into a virus.

02:02

And you deliver that to people

02:04

and then they'd be able to produce the clotting factor

02:05

that they were missing and not have hemophilia anymore.

02:09

In terms of disease diagnosis...

02:11

So, genetic diseases -- So we know, for example,

02:14

that people who have mutations

02:15

in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes

02:16

are at increased risk of breast cancer.

02:19

So if you were able to sequence someone's DNA

02:21

using these new technologies and say,

02:22

"You have that mutation. There's certain preventive

02:24

things that you can do to prevent yourself

02:27

from getting breast cancer."

02:29

Let's say you had a bacterial infection

02:31

and you wanted to know which antibiotic to take,

02:32

you could sequence the DNA of those bacteria

02:34

and you could say, "Oh, this is the right antibiotic for me."

02:36

Rather than getting a broad spectrum one.

02:39

Wow, cool. And we've talked a bit about

02:41

genetically modified plants and agriculture

02:44

resistant to pesticides and so on.

02:47

How should we think about biotechnology

02:50

as applied to agriculture?

02:52

I think the major concerns about, sort of, GM crops

02:55

are these ecosystem damage things.

02:56

So you could imagine that, yeah,

02:58

you make a plant that's resistant to pesticides.

03:00

But then you keep applying more and more pesticides.

03:01

You get these super-weeds that can then spread.

03:04

So I think people are trying to be as careful as possible

03:06

and kind of cordon off the areas

03:08

of the GM crops compared to the regular crops.

03:10

But it's definitely something to monitor

03:12

and you probably wouldn't see the effects until

03:13

- later on. - For a while. Yeah. Okay. Fair enough.

03:17

Okay, that was applying biotech in the real world

03:19

with Dr. Ruth.

03:21

[ whoop ]

03:22

How are advances in molecular genetics applied to medicine?

03:27

What are other examples of advances in biotech?

03:30

Like gene therapy, diagnosing diseases, vaccines.

03:33

All that fun stuff.

03:35

How should we think about biotechnology

03:37

as applied to agriculture?

03:42

[ high-pitched group yelling ]