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DNA are molecules in the chromosomes that contain your genetic information. Every human has a different set of DNA. The first person to study DNA was the Swiss chemist, Johann Friedrich Miescher, in the 1860s. Some of the famous pioneers who contributed to the study and research of DNA were James Watson, Francis Crick, and Rosalind Franklin.
Because of these scientists, we are now able to use DNA in laboratories all around the world in a matter of hours to solve problems and settle cases. We are now able to perform forensic testing, diagnostic testing, carrier testing, and paternity testing. One of the most famous methods used in performing these tests in the DNA extraction.
DNA extraction is the process in which DNA is separated from the cell material contained in the cell acquired. Although this process is immensely useful in genetics research and forensic testing, it is a very critical and labor-intensive process. People handling DNA must be careful in order to prevent contamination or crossover of the DNA sample. To extract the DNA, the sample is placed in a test tube with a lysis buffer, which is meant to break down the cell’s membrane. The lysis buffer is then washed and substances that detoraite the proteins and RNA (RiboNucleic Acid) in the cell, such as protease and RNAse, are then placed into a container with the sample. The sample is then cleaned, captured, and ready for extraction. Once the extraction solution is added to the cells, it is placed in an incubator overnight, undisturbed. After that, the extract is harvested.
DNA extraction has numerous uses. One of these uses is in the genetic modification of plants. Genetic engineers can remove or add traits to the plant such as resistance to pesticides or change in sizes. Many agricultural corporations use this in order to increase their production. The extract the DNA. Then, they clone the genes they need and use it in other plants.
Another use of DNA is in the pharmaceutical industry. It is usually the first step in developing various types of medicines. An example of this is the Hepatitis B vaccine. Forensic testing is the usage of the unique DNA in each person to identify the convict of a crime in a pool of suspects. This type of testing aided in law enforcement and reaching justice. DNA is found in every part of the body such as hair strands, blood, sweat, saliva..etc.
These pieces of evidence are found on weapons used in the crimes, on furniture in the crime, on clothes that the suspect was wearing, and more. This makes DNA forensic testing quite convenient. Forensic scientists collect the DNA from the crime scene and work on finding an identical match to it. Forensic DNA testing was first used in 1985, in England, when a 17 year old boy was accused of murdering and raping two women in his neighborhood. The DNA tests revealed that the young boy was actually innocent and helped the police force catch the real criminal.
Paternity DNA testing is used to confirm the biologically parents of a baby, or any biological relationships (ex. siblings, aunts, grandparents, cousins). Since half of the child’s DNA is inherited from the mother, and the other half is inherited from the father, the DNA of the child and parent are tested to find a match. This form of testing is one of the most reliable forms used in medicine these days for many reasons. Some of these reasons include establishing an accurate medical history for the child, adoptive children searching for their biologically family, to create an immigration record, or to gain support from a parent who denies that the child is his/her. Many parents take to court to solve parental problems.
DNA testing has aided in solving hundreds of these problems. Carrier genetic testing is used to identify inherited diseases in a person’s genes and the risks it may cause by being passed down to children. Until today there are more than 600 hundred genetic disorders have been discovered. These disorders include Cystic Fibrosis, Spinal muscular atrophy, Fragile-X syndrome…etc. Genetic testing can help in curing or preventing some of the diseases such as the previously mentioned.
These test are very important because inherited diseases cause more than 20% of infant deaths in developing countries. Two parents carrying the same recessive disorder can cause a problem with the child. These forms of test are performed by collecting samples that include DNA, such as saliva samples, hair, or blood. The test samples are then sent to a laboratory, either a forensic one or a medical one. The sample are then given tracking numbers and assigned to confidential files depending on the importance of the case. DNA is then extracted from the sample using phenol–chloroform extraction, which is a extraction technique used to separate nucleic acids from molecules. Using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism), the DNA identities are compared to identify any similar or unsimilar genetic structures.
In conclusion, genetic testing has changed the world as we know it. It has impacted our social lives. Some couples decide not to get married after discovering that one of them carries a genetic disease. Many of these cases occur in the premarital screenings in Gulf countries. It also has a political impact. For example, now countries can perform paternity tests to find out who is the rightful heir to the throne. In addition, forensic testing has solved many crimes and caught many criminals who are now held accountable for their actions. This is an ethical impact. DNA extractions, with the many testing methods used in genetic testing, have really changed the course of history.
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