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Cloning Genes

Importance For Medicine And Industry

The ability to clone a gene is not only valuable for conducting biological research. Many important pharmaceutical drugs and industrial enzymes are produced from cloned genes. For example, insulin, clotting factors, human growth hormone, cytokines (cell growth stimulants), and several anticancer drugs in use are produced from cloned genes.

Before the advent of gene cloning, these proteins had to be purified from their natural tissue sources, a difficult, expensive, and inefficient process. Using recombinant methods, biomedical companies can prepare these important proteins more easily and inexpensively than they previously could. In addition, in many cases the product that is produced is more effective and more highly purified. For example, before the hormone insulin, which many diabetes patients must inject, became available as a recombinant human protein, it was purified from pig and cow pancreases. However, pig and cow insulin has a slightly different amino acid sequence than the human hormone. This sometimes led to immune reactions in patients. The recombinant human version of the hormone is identical to the natural human version, so it causes no immune reaction.

Gene cloning is also used to produce many of the molecular tools used to study genes. Even restriction enzymes, DNA ligase, DNA polymerases, and many of the other enzymes used for recombinant DNA methods are themselves, in most cases, produced from cloned genes, as are enzymes used in many other industrial processes.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 1Cloning Genes - Purposes Of Gene Cloning, Cloning Techniques, Importance For Medicine And Industry, Genomic Versus Cdna Clones