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Science is a creature that continues to evolve at a much higher rate than the beings that gave it birth. The transformation time from tree-shrew, to ape, to human far exceeds the time from an analytical engine, to a calculator, to a computer. However, science, in the past, has always remained distant. It has allowed for advances in production, transportation, and even entertainment, but never in history has science be able to as deeply affect our lives as genetic engineering will undoubtedly do. By understanding genetic engineering and its history, discovering its possibilities, and answering the moral and safety questions it brings forth, the blanket of fear covering this remarkable technical miracle can be lifted.
The first step to understanding genetic engineering and embracing its possibilities for society is to obtain a rough knowledge base of its history and method. The basis for altering the evolutionary process is dependant on the understanding of how individuals pass on characteristics to their offspring. Genetics achieved its first foothold on the secrets of nature's evolutionary process when an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel developed the first "laws of heredity." Using these laws, scientists studied the characteristics of organisms for most of the next one hundred years following Mendel's discovery. These early studies concluded that each organism has two sets of character determinants, or genes (Stableford 16). For instance, in regards to eye color, a child could receive one set of genes from his or her father that were encoded one blue, and the other brown. The same child could also receive two brown genes from his or her mother. The conclusion for this inheritance would be the child has a three in four chance of having brown eyes, and a one in three chance of having blue eyes (Stableford 16).
Genes are transmitted through chromosomes which reside in the nucleus of every living organism's cells. Each chromosome is made up of fine strands of deoxyribonucleic acids, or DNA. The information carried on the DNA determines the cells function within the organism.
DNA discovery is attributed to the research of three scientists, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and James Dewey Watson in 1951. They were all later accredited with the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1962 (Lewin 1).
"The new science of genetic engineering aims to take a dramatic short cut in the slow process of evolution" (Stableford 25). In essence, scientists aim to remove one gene from an organism's DNA, and place it into the DNA of another organism. This would create a new DNA strand, full of new encoded instructions; a strand that would have taken Mother Nature millions of years of natural selection to develop. Isolating and removing a desired gene from a DNA strand involves many different tools. DNA can be broken up by exposing it to ultra-high frequency sound waves, but this is an extremely inaccurate way of isolating a desirable DNA section (Stableford 26). A more accurate way of DNA splicing is the use of "restriction enzymes, which are produced by various species of bacteria" (Clarke 1). The restriction enzymes cut the DNA strand at nucleotide bases both upstream and downstream from the gene to be transfered. Now that the desired portion of the DNA is cut out, it can be joined to another strand of DNA by using enzymes called ligases. The final important step in the creation of a new DNA strand is giving it the ability to self-replicate. This can be accomplished by using special pieces of DNA, called vectors, that permit the generation of multiple copies of a total DNA strand and fusing it to the newly created DNA structure.
Another newly developed method, called polymerase chain reaction, allows for faster replication of DNA strands and does not require the use of vectors (Clarke 1). In nature, most organisms copy their DNA in the same way. The PCR mimics this process, only it does it in a test tube. When any cell divides, enzymes called polymerases make a copy of all the DNA in each chromosome. The first step in this process is to "unzip" the two DNA chains of the double helix. As the two strands separate, DNA polymerase makes a copy ... more
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Cholecyctokinin and panic disorder
Cholecyctokinin is a neuropeptide found in the gastrointestinal system and brain. Research has shown that it has various isolated fragments that may influence several important areas of human behavior, such as nociception, satiety and anxiety. Cholecystokinin receptors located in the central nervous system (CNS) are known as CCK-B receptors, and they have high affinity for the tetrapeptide fragment CCK-4. Anxiogenic effect of CKK-4 in humans suggested that it might be involved in pathogenesis of panic disorder, and opened new avenues of research into biological aspects of anxiety. Further research showed increased sensitivity of panic disorder patients to CCK-4 in comparison with normal volunteers. Next, substances capable of blocking CCK-B receptors (CCK-B antagonists) were synthesized and their action was evaluated. One of such antagonists, L-365,260 proved to be effective in blocking CCK-4 induced panic attacks in panic disorder sufferers. However, a pilot study failed to show the effectiveness of the same antagonist in decreasing the frequency of spontaneous panic attacks in panic disorder patients during the course of six weeks. Though CCK-B antagonists may prove to become great potential anxiolitic agents, more research has to be done in order to understand the mechanism of CCK-4 action as a neurotransmitter and its role in naturally occurring panic attacks
Ethiology of panic disorder: a brief overview
Panic disorder, (PD) is a recognized psychiatric condition and is identified in DSM-III-R as a condition separate from other anxiety disorders. Its main feature is occurrence of unprovoked panic attacks, which happen at random and cannot be explained by the patients. These attacks of fear are closely associated with an overwhelming subjective feeling of anxiety in connection with unpleasant bodily sensations, such as increased heartbeat/palpitations, hot flushes/chills, abdominal distress, nausea, sweating, trembling/shaking, etc. Along with objectively groundless emotional symptoms, e.g. fear of losing control, sense of unreality and detachment, even fear of dying they affect PD sufferers, interfering with social and professional aspects oftheir lives. Some PD patients associate panic attacks with certain objects or situations, and therefore phobias, especially agoraphobia , are closely associated with the PD.
The ethiology of PD is not clear, and most theories support either a psychological or a neurobiological view. The most developed psychological explanation is cognitive theory of PD. According to Clark's model, the panic attack develops as a result of misinterpretation of unpleasant bodily sensations,which leads to increasing feeling of anxiety and progresses to a fully developed panic. This misinterpretation is defined as anxiety sensitivity, and it present in PD patients. When challenged by panicogenic pharmacological agents, anxiety sensitivity causes a faster and stronger response in PD sufferers than in healthy individuals.2 Biological theories concentrate on implicating pathological disturbances in the neurotransmitter systems, including GABA, serotonin (5HT) and noradrenaline.
Recently attention was given to a less known neuropeptide cholecystokinin (CCK). Though it was first discovered in the gastrointestinal tract (it is secreted by the small intestine and stimulates gall bladder contractions), its abundant presence in the mammalian brain indicated on its possible functions as a behavior-regulating neurotransmitter. Various electrophysiological data and animal studies linked CCK to anxiety regulation. For example, its excitatory role on pyramidal neurons of hippocampal area was first observed in rats after electrophoretic administration of CCK, and increased density of CCK-B receptors was detected in rats with low exploratory activity and with novelty-avoidance behavior.7 The later, also known as novelty stress sensitivity, is often observed in panic disorder patients.. Anxiogenic properties of CCK were demonstrated in various animal models of anxiety, and results of only one of these studies suggested anxiolytic rather than anxiogenic properties of CCK.7
The first human study which demonstrated CCK anxiogenic properties was conducted by De Montigny in 1989. The study did not include a control group and all participants were healthy volunteers. Upon injection of various doles of CCK (20-100 mg) 70% of participants developed panic attack symptoms.7 This discovery was confirmed a year later by Bradwejn and colleagues, who have contributed heavily to the research on the role of CCK as panicogenic agent. In 1991 they confirmed De Montignys observation with the use of a double-blind experimental design.7 Unlike de Montigny, Bradwejns study included no healthy volunteers, but rather panic disorder patients, who were randomly subjected to injections of either ... more
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Autism Autism is a developmental disability of the brain, much like dyslexia or attention deficit disorder. Autism is not a form of mental retardation, and though many autistic people act like they are retarded, but a lot of times they are very intelligent. The Autism society of America quotes autism...occurs in approximately 15 of every 10,000 individuals and nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. today have some form of autism. The sympots of autism may vary from person to person. Autism is calle...
Genetics Science is a creature that continues to evolve at a much higher rate than the beings that gave it birth. The transformation time from tree-shrew, to ape, to human far exceeds the time from an analytical engine, to a calculator, to a computer. However, science, in the past, has always remained distant. It has allowed for advances in production, transportation, and even entertainment, but never in history has science be able to as deeply affect our lives as genetic engineering will undoub...
E: Cholecyctokinin and panic disorder
Cholecyctokinin and panic disorder Cholecyctokinin is a neuropeptide found in the gastrointestinal system and brain. Research has shown that it has various isolated fragments that may influence several important areas of human behavior, such as nociception, satiety and anxiety. Cholecystokinin receptors located in the central nervous system (CNS) are known as CCK-B receptors, and they have high affinity for the tetrapeptide fragment CCK-4. Anxiogenic effect of CKK-4 in humans suggested that it m...
C: Genetic Testing And Its Social Implications
Genetic Testing And Its Social Implications Probably, applied genetics\' most impacts on society are as a result of genetic tests. In general, genetic tests seek to detect some feature of a person\'s genetic constitution. This feature can be a disease causing mutation or a marker DNA sequence used to detect presence of another gene. Obviously these procedures used for testing the status of DNA, RNA or chromosomes are included in genetic tests. What is more it is possible to include some protein ...
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R: Children?s Violent Television Viewing: Are Parents
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U: Bipolar Affective Disorder
Bipolar Affective Disorder Bipolar affective disorder has been a mystery to scientists and physicians since the sixteenth century. The artist Vincent Van Gogh is the first documented case of the disorder, but since then, we have not learned much more about what causes the disease or even a cure for sufferers. The biggest hindrance to scientists is that there are so many symptoms, and they arent sure what the source is. Right now, approximately one percent of the population (three million peop...
M: CHILD ABUSE
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Autism In general, autism is the developmental disability that prevents individuals from properly understanding what they see, hear, or otherwise sense. Approximately 3 to 5 out of every 10,000 school aged children have some for of autism, and males with the disorder outnumber females with it by nearly 5 to 1. It is estimated that 1 in every 500 display some autistic characteristics (Williams, xiv). Autism is called a spectrum disorder because there is no one characteristic and it is different i...
I: Erectile Dysfunctions
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S: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
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R: Asperger?s Syndrome and Instructional Intervention
Asperger?s Syndrome and Instructional Intervention Aspergers Syndrome and Instructional Intervention Aspergers Syndrome (AS) is a pervasive developmental disability first identified in 1944 by Dr. Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician. However, since his paper was written in German and published during World War II, his findings were not well known in the United States and in other non-German speaking countries. In 1981, Dr. Lorna Wing, a British researcher, brought AS to the attention o...
D: No title
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R: The Dawn of a New Age: PCP
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