Biotechnology has come a long way. From the first artificially manufactured human insulin, biotechnology has made great strides. A crucial component of biotechnology is the alterations made to an organism’s genetic material outside the living cell—recombinant DNA technology. This has been instrumental in the large-scale production of many useful biological substances like hormones, proteins, and growth factors. You can learn more about recombinant growth factors and their innumerable uses.
Understanding the different molecular substances involved and their uses in recombinant DNA technology means being familiar with certain crucial terms. These include:
i)Protein: This is a large biomolecule made up of tiny bits called amino acids. Proteins make up a significant component of the tissues of many living organisms, including humans.
ii) Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): This is the genetic material that nearly all living things, including humans, have in their cells. It is crucial for determining many of the body processes and heredity. It has two strands.
iii) Ribonucleic acid (RNA): This is also a genetic material very similar to DNA. However, it has only one strand.
iv) Transcription: This is when the genetic information in a strand of DNA is copied to form a new molecule known as messenger RNA (mRNA).
v) Translation: This is the process of using the information of the mRNA to manufacture and produce amino acids in specific sequences, hence the formation of a protein molecule. Together with transcription, translation is an integral part of protein synthesis.
vi) Cytokine: These are special proteins that help in the interaction and communication between cells, usually with regard to immunity.
vii) Growth Factor: A growth factor is a substance that plays some role in the regulation of cellular activities. While many growth factors are made of proteins, some are steroid-derived.
Regular protein synthesis is a natural process in a living cell, producing the required kind of amino acid chains. Recombinant DNA technology is very similar, except it happens as a result of human manipulation outside a living cell.
Recombinant proteins obtained through DNA technology have a wide range of uses, including in gene therapy for the management and cure of certain illnesses. This is in addition to research purposes, where they are used in cultures for academic and industrial purposes. As such, it is crucial to keep certain things in mind when choosing recombinant molecules, whether proteins, growth factors, or cytokines.
1. Protein Source
In some cases, proteins have to undergo certain processes before being used for particular applications like research or human application. For instance, glycosylation and post-translation modification (PTM) may sometimes be needed to produce a particular activity in a protein molecule. There are several recombinant systems to help achieve this. Among the most common are mammalian and insect systems. A good example of a mammalian recombinant protein system is the Chinese Hamster Ovary- CHO). The protein source is always an important consideration. For instance, if you require recombinant human cytokines and protein, using a human system is preferable.
2) Bioactivity and Applications
The quality of the recombinant biomolecules you’re purchasing should always be of acceptable standards. If you do so from a reputable company, expect to have good-quality products that have undergone quality control measures for purity or concentrations of other substances like bacterial endotoxins.
Just like natural protein molecules, recombinant biomolecules like cytokines can have their activities measured using a bioassay analysis to gauge functionality. Another crucial metric is ED50—defined as the lethal dose of 50. This is the dose of a substance at which 50% maximal chemical activity is achieved. Ensure that when choosing any recombinant molecules, critical metrics like ED50 and purity are well within the range acceptable for your particular recombinant tasks.
3) Chemical Formulation
Bovine serum albumin (BSA) is the standard formulation in which recombinant biomolecules like growth factors come in. A BSA-free formulation is also an option. Depending on the application for which you need a particular recombinant biomolecule, you can choose either. For instance, if you want to conduct bioassays in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) applications, a BSA-containing formulation is better.
4) Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)
Good manufacturing practice (GMP) is crucial if you intend to take your project from the pre-clinical to the clinical phase. Due to the relatively new field of recombinant DNA technology, there is still a lot of skepticism, especially from governmental quarters. This has led to stringent measures as a result of an overestimation of the potential risks in this field. Control of essential materials like DNA vectors is key to good quality assurance. GMP helps you understand how recombinant technology and its materials will fare in your hands.
Ultimately, it all comes down to what you want to achieve using recombinant DNA technology.