Positive and Negative Impacts of DNA Microarrays  Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

positive and negative impacts of DNA microarrays, Genetic engineering and cloning on the society, environment and the living beings.

In the past years, people have heard much about the biological revolution and they have seen it coming too. Biology, with its modern discoveries, has not only influenced agriculture, medicine and economy but it has affected the nature of man as well. In today's era, where both, biology and technology are developing at a fast pace it is impossible for anyone to survive without having sufficient knowledge about science. The information related to scientific issues will enable the people to make good choices about their health, environment, surroundings and the society in which they reside. This information also enables the people to logically analyze different inventions and advancements in biology so that they can decide that whether the projected discovery is good for them or not. (Silva, 2008)

In the past years, a number of discoveries have been made in the field of biology including, DNA discoveries, genetic engineering, molecular biology, biotechnology, biodiversity, cloning, etc. All these discoveries have a great potential to enhance different aspects of our lives such as health care, agriculture and economy but they also have a number of drawbacks as well. (Silva, 2008)

Major Discoveries in the Field of Biology

Though, thousands of discoveries have been made in this field throughout the history but some of the major discoveries in biology are listed below;

DNA Microarrays

A basic requirement for doing drug research is to differentiate between gene expressions. The difference in gene expressions provides the scientists with the clues regarding the place to look for drugs. DNA microarrays are the specialized tools, which enable the scientists to analyze the gene expressions. (Waasil, 2002)

DNA microarray can be classified as a silver of glass or it can be a silver of silicon. It is being studded with a large number of DNA spots in an orderly arrangement through robotic means. It enables the scientists to match different DNA samples. It uses the pairing rule, also known as hybridization, to provide a medium for the matching of various known and unknown genes. It has also automated the process for the identification of the unknown DNAs. (Waasil, 2002)

In order to accelerate the drug discoveries, there is a need to increase the pace of the process of figuring out which genes are active and which are not. Before the discovery of DNA microarrays, the scientists used to tackle one gene in one experiment at one time. DNA microarrays enable the researchers to gather information about thousands of genes simultaneously and thus they reduce the time consumed by the differentiation process. (Waasil, 2002)

Benefits or Advantages of DNA Microarrays

The major advantage of DNA microarrays is that they can study the behavior of thousands of genes at a same time. This technique is very fast and through it about one hundred and fifty copies of an array consisting of twelve thousand genes can be made only in one day. (Asbury, 2005)

The second advantage of DNA microarrays is that it is less expensive when compared to other techniques of the same kind. The initial cost that is being incurred for the construction of a DNA micro arrayer is dollar sixty thousand. Once the arrayer is being constructed, the cost per copy of an array is very low. This cost is usually less than dollar hundred. (Asbury, 2005)

Another advantage of the DNA microarray is that it is a very user friendly technique. This technique is not radioactive and it is not toxic as well. The microscope slides are used as a convenient base for this technique. The arrays are not expensive and they can easily be replaced if needed. In addition to that DNA microarrays do not require information regarding the DNA sequence in order to construct a DNA microarray. (Asbury, 2005)

Disadvantages of DNA Microarrays

The major drawback of DNA microarrays is the lack of standardization. Due to this problem the data collected from various Microarray platforms cannot be compared with each other. In addition to that, there is an absence of a standardized or unified language that can be used to exchange data between various DNA microarray groups. In order to solve this problem, the Microarray Gene Expression Data Society, MGED, has introduced some guidelines regarding the publication of data in relation to DNA microarrays. In addition to that, Microarray Markup Language, which is being developed by MGED, is trying to provide a standardized platform where different DNA microarray groups can submit their data. (Waasil, 2002)

Inadequate computer tools are another drawback of DNA microarrays. It is very difficult to interpret the data regarding DNA microarrays as researchers are provided with too much or too little information. In addition to that, the tools that help in efficient analysis of DNA microarray data are also lacking. (Waasil, 2002)

Apart from that, the ways to ensure the quality of microarrays so that their full functionality can be guaranteed are lacking. The poor level of sensitivity and interference of background noise forces do not provide the researcher with a true picture of a micro array. In addition to that, the array to array coefficient of variations is very high, which reduces the level of reproducibility of DNA microarrays. (Waasil, 2002)

DNA microarrays enable the researchers to study a large number of genes at a single time. This technology promises to have an influential and a positive impact on the field of health and medicine. Even though, like other new discoveries, DNA microarrays also have certain drawbacks but the concerned authorities are trying their level best to address these shortcomings. (Waasil, 2002)

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering can be defined as the process of the alteration of the genetic constitution of various cells or individuals. This alteration can be done by removing, inserting or modifying different genes or set of genes. It can be defined as a science which enables the people to live a better life by altering the genetic constitution of living beings. Different political, social and corporate groups have conflicting views about the field of genetic engineering. It is projected that in the future, genetic engineering is going to be a major part of our lives and its various aspects can either be an advantage or a disadvantage for us and for the entire world as well. (Surhan, 2002)

Advantages of Genetic Engineering

Through the advancements in the field of genetic engineering, the researchers are now able to develop new and advanced medicines that are of great importance for the health of the people. A large number of proteins that are required in the medicines can now be produced due to the advancements in the field of genetic engineering, whereas; previously these proteins were found in limited quantities. Three products that can be included in the pharmaceutical advancements of genetic engineering are, Human Growth Hormone, Human Insulin and Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA), which helps in dissolving the blood clots and hence reduces the risk of heart attacks. In addition to that, due to advancements in this technology safer, effective and more efficient vaccines can be produced. (Surhan, 2002)

Genetic engineering also plays an important role in addressing various environmental issues. With the help of genetic engineering techniques, researchers can enhance the metabolic abilities of various microorganisms. These microorganisms, as a result, help in addressing various environmental problems. Through genetic engineering, the genetically engineered microorganisms can help in the mineral mining industry and these organisms also help in cleaning the toxic wastes of the mining industry. In addition to that, scientists are also trying to use these engineered microorganisms to control some elements which are harmful for the environment. (Surhan, 2002)

Another major advantage of the field of genetic engineering is its use in the agricultural processes. With the increase in the population there has been a massive decrease in the per capita land. The food available to the people is scarce and in such a case invention of transgenic animals and plants has been a great discovery and it has led to the increase in the food ratio. Apart from that, use of genetic engineering in the agricultural process has also led towards the production of high quality of food. (Surhan, 2002)

Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering

The major disadvantage of genetic engineering is that it may have certain negative impacts on the environment. These impacts can be irreversible as well. The genetically modified organisms can produce different toxins and allergens that can be very harmful for the environment. (Surhan, 2002)

In addition to that gene transfer can take place between transgenic bacteria and plants and this can lead towards various irreversible ecological problems. This is due to the fact that DNA is released from dead and living cells and it is then transferred to other organisms through animal droppings. (Surhan, 2002)

Apart from that genetically modified food can also have a negative impact on the health of the living beings. Evidence has been given by the Rowett…

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