Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

What is Intentional Genomic Alteration?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Intentional Genomic Alteration

Mains level : Gene Editing

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a first-of-its-kind intentional genomic alteration (IGA) in a line of domestic pigs referred to as GalSafe pigs.

Try this PYQ:

Q.What is Cas9 protein that is often mentioned in news?

(a) A molecular scissors used in targeted gene editing

(b) A biosensor used in the accurate detection of pathogens in patients

(c) A gene that makes plants pest-resistant

(d) A herbicidal sub

What is Intentional Genomic Alteration?

  • Intentional genomic alteration in animals’ means making specific changes to the genome of the organism using modern molecular technologies.
  • These are popularly referred to as “genome editing” or “genetic engineering”. However, there are other technologies that can be used to make IGAs in animals.
  • Such changes in the DNA sequence of an animal may be carried out for research purposes, to produce healthier meat for human consumption and to study disease resistance in animals among other reasons.
  • One example is of using IGAs to make an animal more susceptible to certain diseases such as cancer, which helps researchers get a better understanding of the disease and develop new therapies to treat it.

What does FDA’s recent approval mean?

  • The FDA made the announcement this week and allowed IGA in GalSafe pigs to eliminate a type of sugar found in mammals called alpha-gal.
  • This sugar is present on the surface of these pigs’ cells and when they are used for products such as medicines or food.
  • The sugar is found in red meats such as beef, pork and lamb, the sugar makes some people with Alpha-gal Syndrome (AGS) more susceptible to developing mild to severe allergic reactions.
  • IGA will help eventually free these products from detectable alpha-gal sugar, thereby protecting their human consumers from potential allergies.

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