Principles of Gene Manipulation
Occasionally technical developments in science occur that enable leaps forward in our knowledge and increase the potential for innovation. Molecular biology and biomedical research experienced such a revolutionary change in the mid-70s with the
development of gene manipulation. Although the initial experiments generated much excitement, it is unlikely that any of the early workers in the field could have predicted the breadth of applications to which the technique has been put. Nor could they have envisaged that the methods they developed would spawn an entire industry comprising several hundred companies, of varying sizes, in the USA alone.
The term gene manipulation can be applied to a variety of sophisticated in vivo genetics as well as to in vitro techniques. In fact, in most Western countries there is a precise legal definition of gene manipulation as a result of government legislation to control it. In the UK, gene manipulation is defined as the formation of new combinations of heritable material by the insertion of nucleic acid molecules, produced by whatever means outside the cell, into any virus, bacterial plasmid or other vector system so as to allow their incorporation into a host organism in which they do not naturally occur but in which they are capable of continued propagation.
The definitions adopted by other countries are similar and all adequately describe the subject-matter of this book. Simply put, gene manipulation permits stretches of DNA to be isolated from their host organism and propagated in the same or a different host, a technique known as cloning. The ability to clone DNA has far-reaching consequences, as will be shown below.
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