Practical Applications of DNA Technology

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Ethical and Safety Concerns for DNA Technology

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:07 DNA's Many Applications
  • 0:55 Pharmaceuticals & Medicine
  • 2:08 Agriculture
  • 3:30 Forensics
  • 4:29 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

DNA technology is a field that has many applications for our everyday lives. In this video lesson, you will learn about some of the important contributions of DNA technology to industries such as medicine, agriculture and criminal investigation.

DNA's Many Applications

DNA technology is an exciting field these days. This is the study and manipulation of genetic material, and scientists are using DNA technology for a wide variety of purposes and products. A major component of DNA technology is cloning, which is the process of making multiple, identical copies of a gene. Cloning may bring to mind interesting sci-fi movies, but cloning also gives us pest-resistant plants, vaccines, heart attack treatments and even entirely new organisms.

DNA technology has also had a major impact on the pharmaceutical industry, agriculture, disease therapy and even crime scene investigations. Let's take a closer look at the effects DNA technology has had on our world and the applications of such an important field of study.

Pharmaceuticals and Medicine

DNA technology and gene cloning are essential to the pharmaceutical industry and medicine. DNA technology is being used to help diagnose genetic diseases, such as sickle-cell disease and Huntington's disease. Since these diseases are transferred genetically from one generation to the next, those who have such diseases can be identified (sometimes even before birth) and be treated before symptoms appear.

DNA technology is also critical to developing vaccines. Vaccines are harmless versions of a pathogen, such as a bacterium or virus. Vaccines can be used to 'trick' your body into fighting the harmless version so that if you are exposed to a harmful version of the pathogen, you have already built up defenses. There are many ways that DNA technology is used to make vaccines, such as altering the pathogen's genes and mimicking surface proteins of harmful pathogens.

Therapeutic hormones, such as insulin and human growth hormone, are also the result of DNA technology in medicine. Millions of people with diabetes depend on insulin treatments, and human growth hormone is used to help children who suffer from dwarfism, because they produce inadequate amounts of the hormone in their body.


You have likely heard of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. These are organisms that have genes from artificial means. GMOs are used for a variety of agricultural purposes, such as growing larger plants with higher yields, creating pest-resistant crops and improving the nutritional value of crops.

For example, in India, a salt-resistant gene has been inserted into rice so that it can grow in water that is three times as salty as seawater! Another new variety of rice now exists that has very high beta-carotene levels to help reduce vitamin A deficiencies in certain parts of the world.

DNA technology doesn't just make bigger, better food, though. It's also being used to create food products that have medicinal benefits. For example, a new rice strain has been engineered that has milk proteins that can be used to treat infant diarrhea. There are other medicinal food products being designed, like corn that can treat cystic fibrosis and duckweed to treat hepatitis.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account