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Recombinant DNA

Overview Of Recombination Techniques, Applications

Recombinant DNA refers to a collection of techniques for creating (and analyzing) DNA molecules that contain DNA from two unrelated organisms. One of the DNA molecules is typically a bacterial or viral DNA that is capable of accepting another DNA molecule; this is called a vector DNA. The other DNA molecule is from an organism of interest, which could be anything from a bacterium to a whale, or a human. Combining these two DNA molecules allows for the replication of many copies of a specific DNA. These copies of DNA can be studied in detail, used to produce valuable proteins, or used for gene therapy or other applications.

The development of recombinant DNA tools and techniques in the early 1970s led to much concern about developing genetically modified organisms with unanticipated and potentially dangerous properties. This concern led to a proposal for a voluntary moratorium on recombinant DNA research in 1974, and to a meeting in 1975 at the Asilomar Conference Center in California. Participants at the Asilomar Conference agreed to a set of safety standards for recombinant DNA work, including the use of disabled bacteria that were unable to survive outside the laboratory. This conference helped satisfy the public about the safety of recombinant DNA research, and led to a rapid expansion of the use of these powerful new technologies.

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Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 4