10 Major Applications of Recombinant DNA technology in Life

Recombination DNA technology or rDNA technology is developed to produce essential biologicals on a wide scale.

It is the “process of isolating the desired gene from an organism of interest and transferring it to an organism of choice to yield the desired product in large quantities.”

Refer to the article on Steps in genetic engineering for more details.

rDNA technology applications in health care are mind-blowing.

For instance, insulin for diabetic patients was previously procured from pigs and bovine.

This insulin had complications on patients, and also the quantity of supply was minimal and expensive. Insulin produced from genetic engineering removed these limitations.

Similarly, enzymes, vaccines, hormones, and other biological requirements can be supplied in large quantities.

Applications of Recombinant DNA technology

There are many uses of rDNA technology in medicine, industry, agriculture, food, baking, etc. Let us see them in separate parts below.

Five applications of rDNA technology in medicine

Vitamins, antibiotics, enzymes, anticancer drugs, interferons, etc., are produced using this technology.

By traditional methods, the yield could be low and manufacture delayed. So, the use of these methods helps avoid such problems.

i) For the production of vitamins

  • Vitamins like B12 are produced by recombinant bacteria like Paracoccus denitrificans,  Propionibacterium shermanii, E.Coli bacteria on a large scale by fermentation. 
  • Vitamin-C is produced on a large scale from Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Zygosaccharomyces bailii yeast and Gluconobacter oxydans bacteria.

ii) Production of antibiotic medicines

  • Antibiotics are anti-bacterial molecules produced by other microbes.
  • However, these microbes produce them in small quantities.
  • Genetic engineering is used to produce these antibiotics on a large scale for human use.

Further, different analogs of these antibiotics are obtained by gene manipulations.

iii) Recombinant enzymes

Some enzymes are also produced by the rDNA method. These enzymes help in the treatment of diseases.

NoRecombinant Enzyme Used for disease
1Human Deoxyribonuclease ITreatment of cystic fibrosis (lung damage)
2Human Tissue
Plasminogen Activator
Breakdown of clots and prevent heart attack
3β-GlucocerebrosidaseIn Gaucher disease (anemia, thrombocytopenia, osteopenia).
4.L-AsparaginaseLymphoblastic leukemia (a blood cancer)
5Deoxycytidine kinasePancreatic cancer
6Acid sphingomyelinaseHepatocyte cancer.

iv) Recombinant hormones

  • Hormones are essential for normal body physiology and homeostasis.
  • Diabetes is a hormonal deficiency disease caused due to insufficient formation of Insulin in the pancreas. 
  • For such patients, pure human insulin is required for treatment. This pure human insulin is produced on a large scale by genetic engineering. 

Other recombinant hormones produced are growth hormone (somatotrophin), erythropoietin used in the treatment of anemia.

v) For the production of vaccines

  • Vaccines that cannot be obtained from live or dead microbes are produced by the genetic engineering method.
  • One such vaccine is the Hepatitis-B vaccine. It is one of the earliest genetic vaccines successfully used in humans. 

However, these vaccines are quite expensive to manufacture and have less immunogenicity than the other types.

vi) Production of Cytokines

  • Interferons have antiviral and immunomodulatory properties. Interferons produced by the genetic engineering process include
  • Interferon-alfa-2a is used for the treatment of AIDs related Kaposi sarcoma, hairy cell leukemia.
  • Interferon-Beta-1b is used to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis, malignant glioma, and melanoma.

2. rDNA technology uses in animal husbandry and sericulture.

  1. For enhancement of milk production in cattle, cheese ripening, and reduction of lactose levels.
  2. Recombinant enzymes like Fungal α-amylase are used to improve bread texture in the baking industry.
  3. For better meat yield in animals like pigs, cattle, birds.
  4. For enhancement of silk production in sericulture.
  5. For better egg yield in poultry birds.
  6. For better wool yield from sheep.

3. Uses in agriculture.

  • For biotechnology crops like cotton, vegetables, etc. rDNA technology can produce high yielding plants with the desired quality.
  • Disease resistant crops like Bt-cotton, BT-brinjal are produced to withstand pest attack and thereby limit pesticide usage.

Applications in the industry

This technology is used in the industry to minimize the cost of production and adopt environmentally safe reactions methods.

For more, you may refer to the book through the principles and applications of rDNA technology.

  1. Microbial production of vitamin B12.
  2. Production of l-Ascorbic Acid by Metabolically Engineered yeast.
  3. Genetic Engineering of Antibiotic-Producing Microorganisms.
  4. Recombinant Enzymes in the Food and Pharmaceutical Industries
  5. Interferon Synthesis by Micro-organisms

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