Now that the Human Genome Project has identified all human genes, it is possible through genetic engineering technology, by modifying various organisms, to produce specific human proteins, which can then be used for various research and treatment purposes. Examples of this include insulin, for the treatment of diabetes, human growth hormone, for the treatment of development disorders and collagen, for the treatment of skin and connective tissue problems.
- Once the DNA sequence of the gene is known, restriction enzymes are used to cut that gene from the length of DNA.
- The gene is inserted into a bacterial plasmid (small, circular, self-replicating extra pieces of DNA in normal bacterial cells).
- The recombinant plasmid is transferred to a bacterial cell, which starts to synthesise the protein for which the new gene codes. This is known as bacterial transformation.
In 1982, a licence was granted for the use in treatment of human diabetes of insulin produced by bacterial transformation. Nowadays most human insulin is made in this way.
Although it seemed to be a great step forward in the treatment of diabetes, not all diabetics get on well with GM insulin, and need insulin produced from animals. Research the pros and cons from the point of view of the diabetics themselves.