Genetic engineering was once considered to be a taboo during the past years because for a lot of people, it is strange to modify the genes and for so many years they believed that genetic engineering is tantamount to producing clones which can be a bit creepy.
However, with the advancement of technology, specifically with biotechnology, genetic engineering has taken a whole new level of appreciation because of its unending provision of solutions to incurable health dilemmas. Production of Human Insulin, for example, saved thousands of people who are suffering from diabetes.
Not so long ago, another breakthrough in the world of genetics was introduced. Scientists are now able to reproduce human growth hormone or hGH that could treat a condition called hypopituitary dwarfism.
Other than its obvious purpose, hGH can also be used as a treatment for diffuse gastric bleeding in the case of those with peptic ulcer disease, bone disintegration and fractures, rewgrowing of tissues for serious burns, and more benefits from it are being studied including the treatment for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Where Does Human Growth Hormone Come From?
Normally, HGH is produced by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. Small it may be this tiny wonder is responsible for making a person grow. Insufficient production of the hGH causes a person to stop growing hence the condition called dwarfism.
In the earlier days of finding a cure for dwarfism, scientists resort to extracting hGH from human cadavers. This practice stopped only when a cadaver infected with a condition called Creutzfeldt- Jakob, that has similar disease attributes to Alzheimer’s and Mad Cow disease, contaminated and killed at least 26 people. The scandal made scientists find other sources of hGH.
A premier biotechnology company successfully manufactured hGH in almost the same manner as Human Insulin was created. By using viable bacteria like the Escherichia coli, they were able to make a limitless source of hGH that are safe to use. Contamination is virtually non-existent thus a pure hGH is produced.
How Were They Able to Make the Human Growth Hormone Grow?
Although it is a complicated process, the production of Human Growth Hormone using bacteria can be explained in a simple manner. First, genes from different organisms are combined in order to have a hybrid molecule. The DNA on the genes is encoded with genetic information to which the hybrid molecule will host.
HGH has its own genetic codes that can be added to the DNA into a plasmid or tiny cell constituents. Once the plasmid is infused with the hGH gene, it is now ready to be received by the bacteria. As we all know, bacteria can reproduce rapidly. With the hGH DNA added into it, the bacteria will have that as a template to make HGH.
To sum the process up, a hybrid molecule is made out of different genes, hGH DNA is added, insert everything into a bacteria and voila! hGH is produced.
The Challenges in Producing Human Growth Hormone
More than the hardships that the scientists encounter in manufacturing insulin, producing hGH proved to be a very tedious task. Remember that they came up with the ridiculous and very desperate attempt at solving hGH shortage by harvesting them from cadavers.
Production of HGH was difficult at first because it is a highly complex molecule, about 191 amino acids more difficult compared to the 51 needed to make insulin.
Unlike insulin that can be made through purely chemical synthesis, the gene from the HGH molecule should be processed from both chemical synthesis and from the actual ribonucleic acid of the pituitary gland. That is two times the hard work, right?
Risks Involved in the Misuse of Human Growth Hormone
Another thing that makes the hGH produced by using bacteria a hot topic in the medical field is the misuse of the drug among other industries. Although it is meant for growing new cells to aid the stunted growth in dwarfism and as a treatment for damaged tissues as the case for burn patients, the cosmetics industry is eyeing the human growth hormone as an effective solution to stop the aging process.
Even without deficiency, older people are tempted to try out this drug that could potentially help in supplementing the decreasing levels of hGH as one grows older. In fact, some experiments involving the use of hGH among older males have produced mild to terrible results including gynecomastia and intense medical conditions that required longer hospital stays.
The misuse of hGH exposes people into a lot of medical risks thereby putting a strain among pharmaceuticals and physicians involved in the distribution of the drug.
What is the Future of Biotechnology with the Progress of Human Growth Hormone Production?
The research efforts in the manufacture and production of Human Growth Hormone have a tremendous impact in the medical industry not only to those who are affected by dwarfism. More than its practical uses in treating various disorders, the success of successfully producing hGH from bacteria is a solid proof of how advanced biotechnology is nowadays.
This development has further encouraged people to become hopeful of everything that are cooked inside laboratories. Biotechnology as well as molecular biology has a lot more to offer for the human race. Refining their products could only mean one thing and that is a promise of a good life that is free from serious illnesses.