Nucleic acids can be isolated from cells for the purposes of further analysis by breaking open the cells and enzymatically destroying all other major macromolecules. Fragmented or whole chromosomes can separate on the basis of size by gel electrophoresis. PCR can amplify short DNA or RNA stretches. Researchers can use Southern and Northern blotting to detect the presence of specific short sequences in a DNA or RNA sample. The term “cloning” may refer to cloning small DNA fragments (molecular cloning), cloning cell populations (cellular cloning), or cloning entire organisms (reproductive cloning). Medical professionals perform genetic testing to identify disease-causing genes, and use gene therapy to cure an inheritable disease.
Transgenic organisms possess DNA from a different species, usually generated by molecular cloning techniques. Vaccines, antibiotics, and hormones are examples of products obtained by recombinant DNA technology. Scientists usually create transgenic plants to improve crop plant characteristics.
17.2 Mapping Genomes
Genome mapping is similar to solving a big, complicated puzzle with pieces of information coming from laboratories all over the world. Genetic maps provide an outline for locating genes within a genome, and they estimate the distance between genes and genetic markers on the basis of recombination frequencies during meiosis. Physical maps provide detailed information about the physical distance between the genes. The most detailed information is available through sequence mapping. Researchers combine information from all mapping and sequencing sources to study an entire genome.
17.3 Whole-Genome Sequencing
Whole-genome sequencing is the latest available resource to treat genetic diseases. Some doctors are using whole-genome sequencing to save lives. Genomics has many industrial applications including biofuel development, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and pollution control. The basic principle of all modern-day sequencing strategies involves the chain termination method of sequencing.
Although the human genome sequences provide key insights to medical professionals, researchers use whole-genome sequences of model organisms to better understand the species' genome. Automation and the decreased cost of whole-genome sequencing may lead to personalized medicine in the future.
17.4 Applying Genomics
Imagination is the only barrier to the applicability of genomics. Researchers are applying genomics to most fields of biology. They use it for personalized medicine, prediction of disease risks at an individual level, studying drug interactions before conducting clinical trials, and studying microorganisms in the environment as opposed to the laboratory. They are also applying it to developments such as generating new biofuels, genealogical assessment using mitochondria, advances in forensic science, and improvements in agriculture.
17.5 Genomics and Proteomics
Proteomics is the study of the entire set of proteins expressed by a given type of cell under certain environmental conditions. In a multicellular organism, different cell types will have different proteomes, and these will vary with environmental changes. Unlike a genome, a proteome is dynamic and in constant flux, which makes it both more complicated and more useful than the knowledge of genomes alone.
Proteomics approaches rely on protein analysis. Researchers are constantly upgrading these techniques. Researchers have used proteomics to study different cancer types. Medical professionals are using different biomarkers and protein signatures to analyze each cancer type. The future goal is to have a personalized treatment plan for each individual.