Biotechnology and Genetics
The production of vaccines, antibodies, and hormones
by kiera van veen
The advancement in the biotechnology science of vaccines and hormones has been one the worlds greatest achievements. The research and discoveries has made it capable for man kind to preserve life. We are now able to supplement missing cells, hormones, and immunity from your body, and even cure viruses and sicknesses . But to truly understand the greatness of vaccines and hormone production we need to know how its done.
Vaccines are weakened or inactive forms of germs and viruses, injected into your body to trigger your immune system, allowing your body to know how to cure your self again when the real virus infects you. This can sound unsafe, but vaccines are not bad, they help save the majority of population from death and life long lasting disabilities. Think of it like this, germs are constantly attacking your body, but since they are weak, your immune system is able to fight it off. When the infection/germs become to strong, the immune system has to deal with them differently. First your immune system has to analyze the enemy. This process takes a couple days, giving the attacker time to do a lot of damage to your body, making you sick. Once the information is collected, the immune system uses it to create antibodies, a fluid that targets the attacker and fights it off. If they don’t succeed then you could risk fatality, but if they succeed, then your body will remember the formula of the antibody and store it in a memory cell. This cell will sleep in your body till it’s needed again to fight off the reoccurring disease. They can last up to years or even a life time, providing you with immunity. Since this process of obtaining memory cells can be tiring and even fatal, scientists have discovered a way to simulate your immune system which then creates the memory cells safely, this is called vaccines. However the process of discovering and perfecting the creation of a vaccine takes a long time, because like the immune system, humans have to analyze the attacker and then test the results.
Vaccines have many benefits but there can also be some downsides to their administration too. Younger generations haven’t been exposed to germs which means they don’t have any memory cells. Due to their lack of memory cells, their body has to fight off the new germs, causing them to get sick. To prevent the children from getting sick, doctors will administer vaccines when they are infants till teens. You can also get booster vaccines (re-stimulation) when you’re older, allowing your body to freshen up on its information. Boosters are also used when the virus/disease mutates itself to re-infect the population, causing the need for a new vaccine, an example of this is the flu. Even though vaccines are great and save lots of lives, vaccines can have side effects. “Say we had 10,000,000 kids being vaccinated for MMR, then 10% will get a fever, 5% will get a rash, 0.001% will get a serious allergic reaction, 0.0001% of boys will get inflamed genitalia, and 0.0001% will get encephalitis”, which is fatal. So overall out of the 10,000,000 vaccinated kids, only 120 had serious side effects. The common goal of vaccination is to eradicate a diseases/virus from the global population. But, since this would require everyone to be vaccinated and surveillanced, overall it would cost a fortune. Even then, the virus could just mutate. So a more rational idea is to eliminate the virus locally over time. There are many ways of achieving this, one way is, “source drying”. This is where a smaller population is infected, so you vaccinate all the kids under six. Allowing the virus to run its course and having the new generations not pass it on, having been immune. This strategy was used on a indigenous group, to rid them of the virus while protecting the town near by. Although in some cases, there are people who can’t, for various reasons, be vaccinated. To still accomplish the same goal, we must have at least 95%+ of the population vaccinated, to kill off the spread before it reaches unvaccinated civilians, this process is called “herd protection”.
“In developing countries, vaccination programmes are cornerstones of primary healthy care services…. particularly in the critical perinatal and early infancy period” But, since funding for immunization is expensive, scientists have found a way to mix the vaccines, allowing you to vaccinated with multiple antigens at once. This will cut back in “coverage, compliance, and injection saftey… and sometimes improving immunogenicity and reactogenicity”. This allows third world and first world countries to improve their health care, and we are reaping many benefits like; Child mortality rates have dropped, allowing mothers to relax and not worry about having as many children hoping one survives to adult hood. This also allows women to focus more education and careers, which benefits the economy. Poor health means workers aren’t working which means the economy drops, while healthy workers promotes social development and economic growth.
Hormonal supplements are also a great discovery, as they help supplement deficient people. Some examples of hormonal supplements are; The recombinant DNA tech was used since 1978, to create a human hormone, insulin. It used to only be able to treat people with diabetes with pig insulin, but since it caused bad allergic reactions, due to our different hormonal structure, scientists were able to replicate the human hormonal structure. It can now be mass produced by manipulating the fungal cells it growd in. Another example is the human growth hormone (HGH), this is used to encoruage growth in growth stunted people. The hormone was cloned using complentary DNA inserted into e. coli cells.
My last example is leptin, a hormonal supplement that helps deal for missing fat. This hormone was discovered to hopefully help patients with lipodystrophy. Lipodystrophy is people who cannot create fat, but cannot stop eating, this is dangerous as there is no padding on bones or around organs, making them appear sunken. The scientist used a mouse, O.B., who was extremely fat and couldn’t stop eating. The used this mouse’s DNA to comb through and find the gene that only is in fat cells. eventually they found it an injected O.B. with it. Over a couple of days of injection the mouse lost weight and looked normal. They found that with the correct dosage they could manipulate the metabolism making the patient feel full. This was given to the lipodystrophy patients. They could stop eating due to their brain now feeling full, although the supplement doesn’t give them fat, it gives them a sense of comfort and makes up for the missing fat.
The advancement in the biotechnology science of vaccines and hormones has been one the worlds greatest achievements. Because, as we evolve and move into the future, more and more new and advanced viruses, diseases, and disabilities will continue to infect and attack the human race. But we will be able to overcome it and increase life expectancy with the technology advancements.
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