Genetic testing is performed to identify disease-causing genes, and can be used to benefit affected individuals and their relatives who have not developed disease symptoms yet. Gene therapy—by which functioning genes are incorporated into the genomes of individuals with a non-functioning mutant gene—has the potential to cure heritable diseases. Transgenic organisms possess DNA from a different species, usually generated by molecular cloning techniques. Vaccines, antibiotics, and hormones are examples of products obtained by recombinant DNA technology. Transgenic animals have been created for experimental purposes and some are used to produce some human proteins.
Genes are inserted into plants, using plasmids in the bacterium Agrobacteriumtumefaciens, which infects plants. Transgenic plants have been created to improve the characteristics of crop plants—for example, by giving them insect resistance by inserting a gene for a bacterial toxin.
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