September 27, 2013 - Recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology, also known as molecular cloning, is the combination of DNA from two different sources. This allows gene products, or proteins, from one organism to be made in another organism and isolated for applications in many different industries.
rDNA is also the foundation of the biotechnology industry (read more about the basics of biotech).
Cleaner clothes and dishes
Many detergents contain enzymes that are clones of those found in your digestive system to help break down stains, but they perform much better than the spit and rub technique. And it’s more socially acceptable.
Great jeans (blue jeans in this case, not genes)
The bio-processing of cotton fiber with enzymes replaces harsh processing chemicals, reduces impurities, and improves the color quality when it is dyed. Unless you intentionally buy acid-washed jeans, which isn’t recommended, for anyone.
Less fossil fuel consumption
Bioethanol is produced with enzymes and yeast fermentation of common crops, which are renewable resources. Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline and reduces air pollution. Many types of non-ethanol biofuels have also been developed, including algal-derived diesel and jet fuel produced by Solazyme. And if it’s good enough for jets, imagine what it can do in your car.
Fun fact: Genentech piloted the Solazyme fuel in our bus fleet in 2010.
Biotechnology has been used for centuries to make bread rise, beer ferment and cheese ripen with microorganisms. Now scientists are able to create unique flavors by genetically engineering the little guys that do all the work. Your cheese may be more palatable when you know the enzymes are produced from rDNA technology and not extracted from the fourth stomach of cows.
Proteins isolated from stem cell lines or oils from algae are incorporated into some anti-aging products. Unfortunately, these products won’t change the birthdate on your driver’s license.
A cleaner environment
Bioplastics are created by microorganisms that ferment sugars and lipids from plants into polyester granules, which are isolated and processed into plastic-like material. This type of plastic is produced from renewable resources and is biodegradable. Try tossing water on bioplastic packing peanuts and watch them dissolve. That said, eating of packing peanuts is not recommended.
Also know: our Green Biopharma group is working to make our labs more sustainable. Learn more.
Thanks to Herb Boyer and Bob Swanson, we get to credit ourselves as the first biotechnology company to produce medicine from rDNA. Since, biotechnology has come a long way from its first use - insulin production. Today rDNA is being used to engineer completely new classes of medicines that are designed to specifically target cancer cells and treat multiple sclerosis.
We’re excited about what’s next for the biotech industry and medicine development, and you should be too. Join us for a panel discussion on October 24, 2013 and learn more.