Last week we were assigned our first project in Introduction to Bioengineering. I am working in a group of four to come up with a way to produce a protein with medical applications using recombinant DNA. We decided to pick Human Growth Hormone as our protein and will have to figure out how to take the gene which encodes for that protein and insert into a circular piece of DNA called a plasmid which can be taken up by certain cells. The cells which take up these pieces of DNA are transformed cells and can transcribe this DNA into RNA which is then translated into the protein itself. We are also working on the rate the transformed cells would grow at and the process for separating the target protein from the rest of the proteins produced by the cells.
These are the same techniques used by pharmaceutical companies to produce insulin, used to treat diabetes, and other drugs. After only a month we are already able to apply what we have learned to solve medical problems.