1973 is considered to be the year of birth of genetic engineering, when an American biochemist Paul Berg received the recombinant DNA of the two viruses included in the bacterial cell E. coli. And despite the fact that already in 1974, the same Berg and many other scientists began to talk about the potential threats genetically engineered development may have for mankind, the rapid development of transgenic techniques couldn’t be stopped.
The basis of genetic engineering is the hybridization of DNA from the genomes of various organisms that allows obtaining fundamentally new combination of features. Through genetic engineering it is possible to overcome just about any incompatibility between organisms and create hybrids not only between different species and genera, which is possible in conventional breeding, but also between completely unrelated organisms, such as plants and animals, prokaryotes and eukaryotes. However, there was nothing new about that, a man only used the mechanism that has long existed in nature.
Many world’s leading geneticists and biochemists believe that genetic engineering can change the future of the entire planet. In 2012, a molecular biologist, Professor Jennifer Dudna and her team of scientists at the University of Berkeley in California studied how bacteria protect themselves from viral infections.
Now Professor Dudna and her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier are among the most influential scientists in the world. The natural mechanism that they have discovered in the course of their research can be used by biologists to make changes at any point of DNA.
When the bacterium is attacked by the virus, it produces genetic material corresponding to a genetic sequence of a virus.
This material is combined with the key Cas9 protein and may be attached to the viral DNA, crack the genetic code and to neutralize the virus. Scientists can now use this same pattern to insert new elements into the DNA, remove or correct its parts.
This is a simple and inexpensive method. Therefore, it will accelerate all types of research – the creation of genetically modified human disease models in animals to search DNA mutations that provoke disease, or conversely, protect them.
Boston biotech firm Editas Medicine plans to start clinical trials of the first genetic engineering drugs by 2017. It is expected that with its help it will be possible to treat a rare retinal eye disease that leads to blindness as a result of mutations in the genes.
1973 is considered to be the year of birth of genetic engineering, when an American biochemist Paul Berg received the recombinant DNA of the two viruses included in the bacterial cell E. coli.