Biotechnology Applications in Medicine & Genetics

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

The word DNA is most commonly associated with criminal investigations but the applications of genetics run well beyond this one field as this lesson explains. Test your knowledge by completing the quiz at the end of the lesson.

DNA and Genetics

Inside each and every one of us is a code, the genetic code based on DNA. Like computer code tells a computer what to do or how to act, our genetic code in many ways tells our body what to do or even predisposes it to act in a certain way. This code has been used in many areas, from medicine to forensics. It's a really exciting field, and this lesson will introduce you to the many ways by which genetics can be used to help us all.

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  • 0:02 DNA and Genetics
  • 0:32 Forensics & Profiling
  • 1:58 Genetics and Medicine
  • 2:55 Agriculture & Environment
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Forensics & Profiling

Fans of CSI and similar shows have probably seen on just about every episode some reference to blood, hair, skin, DNA, or something else that can help solve a case. All of this has to do with DNA forensics, a field that uses genetic material during criminal investigations to help solve a crime or answer questions about a crime. In essence, we try to find a piece of DNA evidence that links a person to a crime-scene, perhaps the perpetrator of a crime. Since each person's DNA is unique, we can be quite certain that if it's found there, the person was there. Unless, of course, it was brought into the scene through some other means.

DNA forensics is intrinsically linked to DNA profiling, which is basically a DNA fingerprint. If the DNA fingerprint from a sample of skin cells matches the DNA fingerprint from an individual who claims he was never at the crime scene, that person is probably lying. However, we don't use DNA profiling exclusively to solve crime. We can use it for things like paternity tests or to figure out if a person is truly a long lost relative after they were adopted out to a different family.

All in all, when it comes to DNA forensics and DNA profiling, we're simply looking for a genetic match, much like we'd look for a match between traditional fingerprints.

Genetics and Medicine

Our latest research is also yielding some promising results by using genes to treat or prevent disease. This is called gene therapy, a technique that allows doctors to prevent or treat a disease by manipulating genetic material as opposed to administering medication or performing surgery. How exactly does this work?

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