The great breakthroughs in the field of genetic science have seen the emergence of genetic engineering as a formidable field in modern world. Through genetic engineering, scientists have been able to add new DNA to an organism, thus changing its original traits. Though playing God and interfering in creation is risky, people have taken full advantage of the new findings to alter food products, plants, and also create vaccines. Though many scientists predict that the genetically modified (GM) viruses and genetically engineered virus-vector vaccines possess significant unpredictability and a number of inherent harmful potential hazards, no one has been able to stop its usage. May be you have never heard about these 6 genetically engineered viruses, but they are here to stay.
6. Enhancing lithium-air battery performance:
Genetically engineered viruses have been able to greatly enhance the performance of lithium-air battery by creating nano-wires. The nano-wires, which approximately match the size of RBCs, can function as electrodes with much larger surface areas than that of normally used electrodes. The virus built nano-wires have a rough and spiky surface that dramatically increases their surface area thus improving the rate of charging and discharging. In addition they are cross linked, providing greater stability to the electrode.
5. AIDS Virus to the rescue:
You can marvel at the way scientists have maneuvered the AIDS virus which has been responsible for more than 30 million deaths, to cure metachromatic leukodystrophy and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome in children. After 16 years of research, scientists genetically modified the HIV virus to be a carrier for a therapeutic gene which allows the cells to restore the missing protein, the deficiency of which causes these genetic disorders. The combination of modified virus and stem cells are directly inserted into the patient’s bone marrow, which facilitates further production.
4. Gene VI:
The viral Gene VI was found in most of the genetically modified food crops. People who are unaware of this lurking danger in the attractive, modified food products will be more susceptible to viral infections, including colds, hepatitis, cancer and even AIDS after consumption. Though the biotech industry has ignored the warnings, saying that their genetically modified products are harmless, you might notice that Gene VI has shown dangerous effects in recently conducted animal studies. The Gene VI has shown effects of organ damage, sterility, infant mortality, tumors and accelerated aging in rats.
3. Pexa-Vec or JX-594:
Scientists have partially disabled cowpox virus to create a genetically engineered virus known as Pexa-vec or JX-594 to target and destroy cancer cells. Further, the virus is known to initiate and anti-tumor immune response in the body. Pexa-Vec is an oncolytic and immunotherapeutic vaccnia virus that helps in control of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in addition to activating a patient’s own immune defense against the cancer.
2. Source of energy:
It could be quite shocking (pun intended) to know that researchers have come up with a device that can generate energy by harnessing the electro-mechanical properties of genetically engineered viruses. The sheets of viruses generate enough electricity to light up a small LCD when pressure is applied to squish them. At present the current produced is small because only a thin layer of the virus deforms is used; yet they can be useful for small scale applications like pacemakers.
1. Pain killers:
A genetically modified virus is used to carry the prepro-beta-endorphin gene into the nerve cells to tackle chronic pain which can debilitate people causing a lot of trauma. The Endorphin gene activates the opiate receptors in the never cells, imitating painkillers like morphine, minus their side-effects. The virus is injected directly into the spinal fluid for maximum effects. In the tests conducted on rats suffering from neuropathic pain, the therapy worked for 3 months keeping them pain free. This could be a blessing to those people who are suffering chronic pain throughout their lives.