Synthetic Biology


In recent decades researchers have developed a set of techniques known as biotechnology, able to manipulate and rearrange genes of various organisms (bacteria, plants, animals), mainly used for synthesis of drugs.

For example, growth hormone secreted by the pituitary gland plays a crucial role in the growth and development of the child; its deficiency causes dwarfism. Originally the disease was treated by injections of hormones extracted from dead bodies, which made the treatment very expensive and could spread disease.

Through biotechnology, the gene encoding the growth hormone has been identified, isolated and inserted into the genetic code of the bacterium Escherichia coli. The bacteria can multiply rapidly and produce the hormone in large quantities and without any risk.

Biotechnology: the gene of interest is isolated from the human genome (1) and inserted into a bacterium plasmid (2). The plasmid is then transferred back into the bacterium (3), which multiplies rapidly in colonies and produce large quantities of human protein (4).

By similar techniques biologists have produced insulin, necessary for the treatment of diabetes, the drug called Leukine, used in the treatment of cancer and viral infections, the vaccine against hepatitis B and other drugs.

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