2. DNA AND BIOTECHNOLOGY

DNA is basically a long molecule that contains coded instructions for the cells. Everything the cells do is coded somehow in DNA – which cells should grow and when, which cells should die and when, which cells should make hair and what color it should be. Our DNA is inherited from our parents. We resemble our parents simply because our bodies were formed using DNA to guide the process – the DNA we inherited from them.

We may resemble our parents, but we are never exactly like them. This is because each child gets only some of the DNA each parent carries. About half our DNA comes from our mother, and half comes from our father. Which pieces we get is basically random, and each child gets a different subset of the parents’ DNA. Thus, siblings may have the same parents, but they usually do not have exactly the same DNA (except for identical twins).

Biotechnology is technology based on biology, especially when used in agriculture, food science, and medicine. The UN  Convention on Biological Diversity has come up with one of many definitions of biotechnology: “Biotechnology means any  technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products  or processes for specific use.”

Traditional pharmaceutical drugs are small chemicals molecules that treat the symptoms of a disease or illness – one molecule  directed at a single target. Biopharmaceuticals are large biological molecules known as proteins and these target the  underlying mechanisms and pathways of a malady; it is a relatively young industry. They can deal with targets in humans that  are not accessible with traditional medicines. A patient typically is dosed with a small molecule via a tablet while a large  molecule is typically injected. Small molecules are manufactured by chemistry but large molecules are created by living cells: for example, – bacteria cells,  yeast cell,animal cells.

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