High schoolers perform genetic transformation

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On Jan. 15, students in Arnold Kamhi’s Advanced Placement biology class at John H. Glenn High School performed a procedure known as genetic transformation, or genetic engineering.  

Genetic transformation means “change caused by genes,” and occurs when the cell incorporates and expresses a new piece of genetic material, or DNA derived from another organism. Transformation involves the insertion of a gene into an organism to alter the recipient organism’s expression.

Genetic transformation is used in many areas of biotechnology. In agriculture, genes coding for traits such as frost, pest, or spoilage resistance, can be genetically transformed into plants. In bioremediation, bacteria can be genetically transformed with genes enabling them to digest and breakdown pollutants such as oil spills or heavy metals contamination. In medicine, disorders caused by defective genes are being treated by gene therapy; that is, by genetically transforming a sick person’s cells with healthy copies of the defective gene.