Biotechnology can be described in many different ways, but a straightforward definition is: ‘Biotechnology is the use of biological organisms or enzymes in the synthesis, breakdown or transformation of materials in the service of people.’
The polymerase chain reaction has enabled scientists to make large quantities of DNA from tiny samples. This in turn has made much of the most recent and exciting DNA technology possible. The ability to sequence DNA, identifying genes and what they do, the Human Genome Project leading on to the 1000 Genomes Project, and DNA fingerprinting – all depend for their success on this ingenious technique.
One area of biotechnology which nearly everyone has heard of is genetic engineering. We now have genetically-modified organisms ranging from bacteria to cows and sheep which produce life-saving medicines including vaccines, insulin and blood-clotting factors. Genetically-modified bacteria can even make the lung surfactant needed to
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