There is no denying that genetic engineering is bringing unprecedented advances in medicine, science and technology. This course is ideal for research assistants, researchers or anyone who wants to enhance their career in science or as a genetic engineer.
The Certificate of Genetic Engineering will give you insights into how genetic engineering is applied in animals, plants and humans.
In this genetic engineering course, you will develop an understanding of epigenetics, the fundamentals of genetics, and explore genetic modification and genetic technology. You will also learn about the important ethical considerations in genome editing.
You will also explore genetic engineering as it applies to crop and livestock development as well as advancements in human health.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking a genetic engineering course in preparation for a career as a genetic engineer include:
- Exploring genotype and phenotype, Mendel’s laws of inheritance, the Law of Dominance and the Law of Segregation
- Gaining an understanding of the law of independent assortment, non-mendelian genetics, inheritance patterns, multiple allele traits and human blood types
- Studying co-dominance, incomplete dominance, inheritance tools and forked line method
- Examining pedigrees and dominant and recessive traits
- Understanding genetic foundations and the basics of genetics
- Attaining knowledge of nucleic acids, the structure of DNA and the different types of DNA
- Gaining insights into genomic DNA, the applications of GDNA, genomic libraries, complementary DNA and generating CDNA libraries
- Learning about the structure of MRNA and the difference between a genomic library and a CDNA library
- Exploring genetic technologies, using genetic application tools, Elisa, PCR-elisa, microarrays and microarray process and analysis
- Gaining an understanding of a DNA microarray plate, microarray applications, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array and polymerase chain reaction
- Studying PRR, how it’s conducted, PCR ingredients and processes and the amplification of DNA
- Examining gel electrophoresis, reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR), quantitative PCR (qPCR) and DNA sequencing technologies
- Understanding Sanger sequencing, Next generation sequencing, the applications of PCR and DNA sequencing and microbiology and virology
- Gaining insights into more complex non-mendelian inheritance
- Learning about complex genetic inheritance, cytoplasmic inheritance and polygenic inheritance
- Exploring gene conversion, the crossing over of genetic material and epistasis
- Gaining an understanding of cytoplasmic inheritance, infectious heredity and mosaicism
- Studying sex-linked inheritance, X-linked diseases and trinucleotide repeat disorders
- Examining epigenetics and their mechanisms, histone modification and DNA methylation
- Understanding microRNA (miRNA), plant miRNAs and animal miRNAs
- Attaining knowledge of plant and livestock examples
- Gaining insights into genetic modification, gene editing and RNAi
- Learning about genetic recombination, CRISPR-Cas 9 and cloning
The Future of Gene Editing
As you will learn as a genetic engineer or even by undertaking a genetic engineering course, the gene editing revolution is advancing at a rapid pace. However, there are questions surrounding this science, including whether it is in fact saving lives or “playing God”.
Sometimes, DNA makes mistakes when copying itself, known as “mutations”. Over time, good mutations might build up, and their advantages improve generations, but some can cause problems. Mutations are essentially what evolution looks like under a microscope! But now humans have the tools to directly edit DNA both in embryos not yet born (known as germline editing) and in living people (know as somatic editing).
Genetically Engineered Humans
The world’s first genetically engineered humans were twins born in October 2018. However, with fertility treatments illegal for prospective parents with HIV in China, the scientist behind the engineers, Dr He Jiankui, had instead edited the girls as embryos to be resistant to the AIDS virus carried by their father. He was subsequently jailed for three years — he kept doctors in the dark, faked tests and bypassed ethics boards in his quest to “cross the germline” and engineer humans. And his research was internationally condemned as rogue “Frankenstein” science. What had been feared by many in the scientific community, especially since the creation of the breakthrough gene-editing tool CRISPR, had come to pass.
However, gene technologies have also had their benefits. It has helped us track and fight COVID-19 faster than any outbreak in history with new-generation mRNA vaccines and real-time genomic sequencing. Gene editing also saved the lives of two toddlers with terminal leukaemia in London in 2015.
But, three years on from the Dr He scandal, experts say regulation is still not keeping pace with the gene-editing revolution. In Dr He’s case, DNA changes made it to every cell in the twins’ bodies, and any edits will be permanent and passed onto future generations, making the stakes particularly high. Currently, researchers agree the technology is not development enough to do it safely, so human germline editing is banned is almost every country.
Many experts also agree that if we use this technology, humanity will begin to break the natural laws of selection that have shaped life for the past four billions years. It is one of the most powerful technologies in history because it can fundamentally change not just individuals, but species.
How is gene editing already being used?
Professor Greg Neely from the University of Sydney has already been using gene-editing to block jellyfish venom hurting humans, stop pain in mice, and even extend the lives of fruit flies.
But, while the tools might be simpler, editing DNA itself is still complicated. This is a factor that a genetic engineer or someone who has studied a genetic engineering course will soon realise. For one thing, just as we are more than our genetics, the parts of us that really are genetics rarely come down to just one gene. They are often the sum of many, all working together in ways we don’t quite understand yet. Mess with one gene, and you might throw off others in places you don’t expect. It’s what scientists call “off target effects”. Two common areas were gene editing is currently being used are:
When it comes to saving lives, sometimes it really is just one gene scientists need to fix. A single mutation causes conditions such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and the premature ageing disease, progeria, putting them well in reach for safe gene therapies. Some of these have already been approved by regulators around the world. So far, therapies often involve removing bone marrow or blood to edit cells. Next it is put back in the patient where the tweaked DNA will be carried around the body as the cells replenish themselves. At Harvard University, they have already made a line of pigs resistant to viruses so they can be raised as safe organ donors for humans.
Current IVF Screening
has itself reduced the rate of babies born with non-life-threatening conditions such as dwarfism and Down Syndrome. However, some fear that disability and not just disease will increasingly become the target of genetic editing as technology advances. Embryos likely to have deafness or bipolar disorder may no longer be considered viable either. And it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how a “designer baby” scenario could create an unbridgeable class divide.
Already some IVF clinics around the world allow parents to choose their child’s eye colour and sex, and a number of companies are working to create genetic profiles for embryos too. This is where the shadow of eugenics hangs over the debate. Some argue it is unethical for a parent to alter their child’s fundamental make-up at all. Others say we have preferenced parental choice in reproduction laws. However, the problem is also that diversity is not just a nice thing for society. It is crucial to our resilience and survival as a species. What if a gene was wiped out that we thought was defective but really helped us surviving a future plague? Or we make humans too homogenous that creativity and different kinds of intelligence is destroyed? Genetic editing is a fascinating dichotomy!
Gain a solid foundation into the fundamentals of genetic engineering towards a career as a genetic engineer with a genetic engineering course such as our Certificate of Genetic Engineering.