Uses of DNA Extraction

By Ma Wen Jie
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DNA extraction is one of the most modern of the biological sciences. It is used to diagnose many medical conditions and can also be used for genetic engineering of both plants and animals. DNA extraction can also be used to gather evidence in a crime investigation.

Plants

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DNA extraction is used in the genetic modification of plants. Many agricultural companies use genetic extraction to create DNA that they then modify to make a particular genetic strain of a crop that is resistant to various chemicals or pests. An example is number of lines of seeds manufactured by the Monsanto Corporation that are immune to the herbicide Roundup. By making the crops (beets, for example) resistant to Roundup, that particular herbicide can be sprayed on fields to kill weeds, but not affect the beet crop.

Animals

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DNA extraction is also the first step in genetic engineering of animals. Genetic engineering of animals is a very broad topic that ranges from changing a single gene to make, in an example from a Taiwanese research lab, a pig that glows in the dark. On the most complex end of the spectrum of animal genetic engineering is cloning, a process from which genetic identical animals can be made.

Pharmaceuticals

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DNA extraction is used as the initial step in manufacturing a number of pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals made via recombinant genetics include bovine growth hormone (bVh) and human growth hormone (hGh). In addition to a number of other hormones, one of the most used is insulin.

Medical Diagnosis

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Diagnosis of certain medical conditions can often be made from DNA extracted from a patient. Conditions that can be diagnosed by genetic testing include cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, fragile x syndrome, Huntington's disease, hemophilia A down's syndrome and Tay-Sachs disease. In addition to diagnosing existing diseases, also common is testing to see if a person is a carrier of a particular disease but does not have the disease.

Identity Verification

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A well-known use for genetic extraction is genetic fingerprinting, a process in which genetic material can be matched to genetic material at a crime scene, for example. Genetic verification has worked both to place a person at the scene of a crime and to exonerate people falsely convicted of a crime.

About the Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.