The change in the genes of organisms using biotechnology techniques is called genetic modifications. The change in the genes of an organism can be produced by removal, addition or repair of genes. It is the modern method to change the characters of organisms.
For example; this process is used in crops to produce Resistance in plants against disease-causing microorganism. Similarly, the improvement in the nutritional quality of edible plants is also one of the advancements of genetic modifications. The organism whose genes are modified is called genetically modified organism (GMO).
Insulin is a human protein. In human body, it is produced by pancreas. It controls the glucose level in blood. If pancreas does not produce the required amount of insulin, the level of glucose in blood rises. This condition is known as diabetes mellitus. Diabetic patients need regular injections of insulin to control glucose level in the blood. In past, insulin was extracted from the pancreas of animals.
Nowadays, it is produced using biotechnology. These genetically modified bacteria (GM bacteria) prepare insulin. The insulin prepared in GM bacteria is extracted from bacterial colonies and used. The steps of biotechnology techniques for the production of insulin are shown in the Figure.
Vaccine is a material which contains weakened or killed pathogens (disease causing germs) and is used to produce immunity (resistance) against a disease. When a vaccine is given to human body, the blood cells in the body take the weak or dead pathogens as real ones and prepare antibodies against them. These antibodies remain in blood. When any real pathogen enters the body, the already present antibodies kill it immediately and the body becomes protected form disease.
Nowadays, bio technologists use bacteria to prepare vaccines. They identify some proteins of pathogens that do not cause disease but can stimulate blood cells to make antibodies. The gene of such protein is inserted into bacterium. The GM bacteria make colonies and prepare the pathogen proteins.
These proteins act as vaccine. When these protein are injected in human body, its blood cells produce antibodies. These antibodies can kill the kind of the pathogen from which the gene was taken. In this way the human become safe from that kind of pathogens. Vaccines for hepatitis-B, typhoid, measles, etc., have been developed using biotechnology. Vaccines for malaria and HIV are being developed.
Other important lifesaving biotechnology products include clotting factors, growth hormones, antibiotics, etc.