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rDNA technology revolutionizes biotech sector

Sumy P B
Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology is playing a vital role in developing new vaccines. The advent of rDNA technology has led to a series of dramatic changes which has revolutionized the field of biology.
It has offered novel opportunities for innovations in manufacturing a broad range of therapeutic products with immediate effect in biomedicines by modifying microorganisms, animals and plants to yield medically useful materials.  rDNA technology has made huge impact in the field of healthcare by enabling bulk manufacturing of safe and pure effective rDNA expression products.
Recombinant DNA technology is a fast growing area and researchers globally are developing new methods or approaches, medical devices, and engineered products for application in different areas. Recombinant DNA technology helps to make vaccines on a large scale with the least chances of contamination.
Large-scale manufacturing of vaccines was earlier done by using cell culture. In this method, strains of pathogens were injected into suitable animals like horses and antigens were allowed to proliferate inside the horse’s cells. Subsequently, the serum of the horse is collected to extract the antigens to prepare vaccine.
However, this approach had severe shortcomings due to chances for contamination and some other diseases because of the horse’s serum was quite high. It also involved animal cruelty. These problems could be overcome by recombinant DNA technology. Using this technology, yeast is normally used to produce antigens, and large-scale production at lower cost has become a possibility with this technology.
rDNA technology helps to cut vaccine production cost
Recombinant DNA technology also helps in bringing down the cost of the vaccine production. Hepatitis B vaccine and human papilloma virus are two examples of recombinant DNA vaccines.
A recombinant vaccine is a vaccine manufactured through recombinant DNA technology. This involves inserting the DNA encoding an antigen like a bacterial surface protein to stimulate an immune response into bacterial or mammalian cells and express the antigen in these cells and then purifying it from them.
Most biotechnology pharmaceuticals are recombinant in nature which plays an important role against lethal diseases. The pharmaceuticals synthesized through recombinant DNA technology, completely changed the human life in such a way that the US FDA approved more recombinant drugs in 1997 than in the previous many years combined, which includes anemia, AIDS, cancers (Kaposi's sarcoma, leukemia, and colorectal, kidney, and ovarian cancers), hereditary disorders (cystic fibrosis, familial hypercholesterolemia, Gaucher's disease, hemophilia etc).
Applications of rDNA technology has made it is possible for treating different types of diseases by inserting new genes in place of damaged genes in the human body. Recombinant DNA technology has introduced new methods to treat diseases and delivering medicines. The most common application of rDNA is in basic research in biological and biomedical sciences.

Recombinant DNA is used to identify, map and sequence genes, and to determine their functions. rDNA probes are used in analyzing gene expression within individual cells, and throughout the tissues of whole organisms. Recombinant proteins are widely used as reagents in laboratory experiments and to generate antibody probes for examining protein synthesis within cells and organisms.
Recombinant DNA technology is also used for manufacturing enhanced medicines and resistance to disease, prevention of genetic diseases, lowering the cost of medicines (e.g., insulin) and treatment for pre-existing conditions (viz., cancer). By using recombinant DNA techniques, it is possible to manufacture substances of medical and economic value. And we could obtain desired recombinant of all kinds.
Recombinant DNA is the science behind transgenic animals, insect-resistant crops, and artificial insulin and it is a form of artificial DNA created by combining two or more sequences that would not normally occur together.
Many additional practical applications of recombinant DNA are found in food production, human and veterinary medicine, agriculture and bioengineering.
Biotechnology sector has introduced techniques such as gene therapy, recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology and polymerase chain reactions which use genes and DNA molecules to diagnose or determine diseases, disorders and insert novel and healthy genes in the human body which replace the damaged genes or deoxyribonucleic acids.
Classification of peptides
The peptides are classified as ribosomally synthesized peptides class and the non-ribosomally synthesized peptides. Non-ribosomally synthesized contain cyclosporine A, tracrolimus and sirolimus. They initiate action by interfering in cytokine signaling.
Cyclic peptides obtained from fungus are used broadly to treat autoimmune disease and are also used for preventing allograft rejection of transplanted organs. The class of peptides under ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides are such as cyclolinopeptide A/B, iberiotoxin, kalata B1, magatoxin, kaliotoxin, charybdotoxin.
Biologically significant peptides can be manufactured non-ribosomally by utilizing multi-enzyme complexes. The peptides prepared by non-ribosomally not only contain the commonly available 20 amino acids, but also hundreds of different building blocks. The maturation of a product derived from non-ribosomal synthesized peptides is initiated by tailoring enzymes. These enzymes can be further modified for preparing peptide backbone such as C- and N-methylation, halogenations, oxidation and cross-linking properties.
Development by way of chemoenzymatic for engineering non-ribosomal peptides product are initiated for enhancing their bioactivities. Another approach in formulating non-ribosomal peptides product is by combining chemical synthesis with cyclization mediated by non-ribosomal thioesterase domain. Cyclic peptides are formed by linking one end of peptide and an amide body like thioether, lactone, disulphide have different biological activities.
Insulin is a hormone which regulates sugar metabolism in human body and it is of immense value to diabetics. Insulin is manufactured by ß-cells of islets of Langerhans of pancreas. Current pharmacological treatment of late-stage type 2 diabetes typically consists of replacement of only one of the peptide hormones that are lost after ß-cell destruction, namely insulin.
Human insulin contains 51 amino acids, arranged in two polypeptide chains and the chains are subdivided, the chain A has 21 amino acids while chain B has got 30 amino acids and these both are held together by disulphide bonds. It is believed that insulin resistance and declining ß-cell function are caused and exacerbated by multiple underlying hormone deficits and that metabolic abnormalities may be reversed and corrected by administering novel natural peptide hormones in co-replacement therapies.
Insulin is secreted in the pancreas by some cells known as islet cells. This is fully responsible in controlling the glucose level in human body. When a human gets low level amount of insulin in his body, the person will suffer from a disease known as diabetes. Recombinant DNA technology has helped researchers in developing human insulin by using the bacteria as a host cell.
Approximately three decades ago, rDNA technology was used to manufacture human insulin in bacteria (E. coll) which is called Humelin. Generally human insulin is synthesized as pro-insulin which has an extra stretch called the C peptide. This C peptide is not found in mature insulin and is removed during maturation into insulin.  
Recombinant proteins are broadly used as a reagent in use of various types of laboratory experiments and also to generate antibody probes for examining protein synthesis within tissues and organisms. Many additional practical applications of recombinant DNA are found in the fields of human medicine and veterinary medicine, food production, agriculture and bioengineering.
The recombinant DNA is important in virtually all fields of science, from the completion of the human genome map, to the creation of artificial human hormones up to the manufacturing of highly sustainable and renewable products.
Overall, recombinant DNA replaces the slow and the classical approaches of improving the quality of life of organisms, and its techniques have made breakthrough in the discovery of different recombinant DNA products.
Application of recombinant DNA is for basic research, in which the technology is crucial to most of the current works in the biological and biomedical sciences. Recombinant DNA is employed to find the map and sequence genes, and to identify and determine their functions. Recombinant DNA probes are used in analyzing gene expression within individual tissues and also the throughout tissues of the entire organisms.
In terms of technology, biotechnology does not come under a single technology section, but is characterized by participation of two or more fields of studies that include elements of engineering, material science, biological sciences and system design.
Biotechnology industry is unique and biotechnology products require major investments and guidance of regulatory system before they reach the end- users. The biotechnology industry is nascent in the present Indian context and where the country could create a supportive ecosystem with a vision to become a leading international biotechnology player. The sector has the potential to be a transformative intellectual enterprise of humankind globally.
Biotechnology sector in the country is poised to make big contribution to the global markets. The industry has proved to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and is expected to play vital role in the country’s economy. The industry has been in the forefront in combating life threatening diseases.  The bright future of the country’s biotechnology sector is lying in bio-manufacturing and research sectors.
(The author is a practicing chemical engineer)


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