Students have been trying their hand at modern genetic engineering techniques. In a visit to Manchester University Museum, Biology A Level students got the chance to try out genetic engineering and discuss the controversy surrounding the technique. Students cut DNA into fragments using enzymes and were able to see the results using agarose gel electrophores, a method used in clinical chemistry to separate proteins by charge and or size.
Ms Lawes, Head of Faculty of Science and Maths, said the visit was led by a PhD student who told students about her work investigating a gene that may be involved in breast cancer “They also explored the moral and ethical issues surrounding genetic engineering and considered the current research applications,” she added.
It is possible to produce genetically modified animals and plants by using enzymes to cut pieces of DNA from one organism, and join them into a gap in the DNA of another organism. This means that the new organism with the inserted genes has the genetic information for one or more new characteristics.
Examples of the results include sheep producing human proteins for treating the symptoms of cystic fibrosis - a disease which causes sufferers to produce abnormally thick and sticky mucus in their lungs and tobacco plants that glow in the dark when they need watering.