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Student Sample

Annotated Biblography: Biotechnology Article Review


Just as educators must research to stay abreast of new and emerging educational technology, scientisit must also stay abreast of current information related to new research technology used in sciene fields. In today's society the best way to stay abreast is via Internet research. This annotated biblography sample was generated by a student in this learner's Biology II (Biotechnology class). The articles are reviews of current and emerging DNA technologies used in Biotechnology research. Similar to this learners annotated biblograhy on educational technologies (generated during this Master's program) the Internet served as the primary resource for the student to locate information on new and emerging topics in DNA technology in science research

Gibbs, D. (2006). Stem Cells: The Hope and the Hype. Retrieved September 14, 2007, from Time Magazine Web site:,8816,1220538,00.html

The purpose of this article Stem Cells: The Hope and the Hype was to inform the reader about the history of stem cells, its various purposes, and ethical issues that are affecting tits growth and use. To begin with, the use of stem cells, as according to scientists is nothing but beneficial because they can be used to fine cures for certain diseasessuch as Parkinson’s, Diabetes, and repair damaged spinal cords. Although the use of stem cells had its supporters and those with disagreements, what the public isn’t completely cognizant of is that there are various methods of extracting stem cells. Cells from leftover or dead embryos from invitro fertilization, for example can be used because over 400,000 are just sitting in clinics, and bound to be thrown out. The stem cells inside of those can be extracted and the public should have no issues with the use of those because they were on the verge of being discarded anyway. The problem with these stem cells is that because they were previously frozen, it is more difficult to draw the cells. Not only that, but some of these embryos are weak and somewhat useless. Another method used to gather stem cells is by using adult stem cells. These cells are beneficial considering they can be used to produce cells of a specific lineage as opposed to morphing into anything, and an embryo doesn’t have to be used to gather these cells. Nuclear-transfer embryos are created inserting a patient’s skin into human egg whose nucleus had been removed, and set in a petri dish until the stem cells have been grown. Because the DNA is coming from the patient, the risk of rejection becomes lower. The problem with this is the fact that it has not yet been successfully completed with human eggs, and obtaining the large amounts of human eggs is a difficult task. Stem cells can also be taken from umbilical cords, which are primarily made of blood and can be harvested into bones, cartilage, heart muscles, and brain and liver tissue. The presented problem is that because of the lack of length in the cord, is doesn’t contain an ample amount of cells to treat an adult. Finally, the most controversial yet effective means of retrieving stem cells is through destroying and using the embryo, which after being correctly nurtured, can be directed to become any of the body’s tissues and provide certain cures. Ethics though argue that you can’t destroy one life to save another. As a result of the obvious good that may come from stem cell research, Bush announced an increase in funding for embryonic stem cell research. Even so, scientists are still unsatisfied because they are only allotted to use what lines were already developed and no new lines could be created. Today, only twenty-one lines are available, which puts a limit on the various genetics, and they’re old so don’t grow very well. Even so, their choices are to either use the given lines, or produce their own private funds to continue on with research. In order to address the problems, researchers have decided to create new stem cells through nuclear transfer embryos. Another solution that involves less ethical issues is removing the gene CDX2, which would insure that the embryo lives long enough only to produce the stem cells and then dies. Of course, there are those who feel as though even though the embryo has only eight cells, it’s still considered a life.

Although scientists are researching and trying to come up with alternative means of receiving and using stem cells, there is still a plethora of work that needs to be done. Researchers still have to decipher how to get the cells to grown into exactly the tissue they need, and they still need the FDA’s approval to begin trials on humans. The FDA though, is worried about the safety of the people and need data describing how the cells will behave when inserted into the human body. Tumors, for instance may form if the cells move into unwanted areas. Even so, the only way to determine how the cells will behave is to actually try them in humans. The groups closest to conducting trials on humans are those in the biotechnology industry, who operate without the use of government funds.

The researcher agrees with the opinions of the scientists conducting stem cell research. Of course, there are multiples of ethical issues when dealing with the subject, especially religiously, but people need to get over their feelings. Yes, they want cures for diseases, but they refuse to destroy an embryo, with only eight cells by the way, to do that. In life, nothing is gained without a loss. Using embryos that people apparently didn’t’ want in the first place now, to save millions of people in the future sounds like a good barter. Not only that, but the stem cells don’t necessarily have to be embryonic either. They can come from adults, hollow human eggs, umbilical cords, and dead embryos. Honestly, the only thing holding these researchers back is the lack of available funding. Considering the biotechnological field is the closes to testing on humans, when they finally come up with a cure, the populations going to go immediately try to cure and correct diseases and bodily malfunctions. If people have something against using stem cells, they should simply not give up theirs.

The most important part of this article was at the end when the various methods of extracting stem cells were put into a list form and the pros and cons were described. Because the article was so lengthy, this list made the process of organizing the important aspects of stem cell research much simpler. The researcher found this article both informational and intriguing. The article touched on the definition of stem cell research, how it can be used, the various ethical issues concerning its use, and the different means of getting stem cells. Considering the sue of stem cells have come such a long way and the research is ongoing, the researcher is prompted to continuously research the topic to observe how close its coming to being tested on humans. The researcher would also like to see the day come when the use of stem cells are actually curing diseases, repairing damaged nerves, and et cetera because this in turn will extend the length of human life and make the world a better place.

Science Daily (2007). Transforming Mouse Cells Into “Embryonic” Stem Cells Easily. Retrieved September 14, 2007, from Science Daily Web Site:

The purpose of this article, Transforming Mouse Cells Into “embryonic” Stem Cells Easily is to describe to the reader a newly formed method of extracting stem cells, known as reprogramming, which transforms mouse cells into embryonic cells. Scientists are approving of the reprogramming process because it has the capability of developing human embryonic stem cells, which contain the unique genetic makeup that can in turn help to transplant tissues. Because the cells are from the genetics of the patient, the risk of immune rejection is much lower. This advancement can aid in treating failing hearts, neurological disorders, diabetes, and spinal cork injuries. Researchers for instance, could also recreate cells from patients with Parkinson’s disease, grow the cells in a culture dish, and watch the disease develop so that observations can be made which can help with the creation of a cure for the disease.
Yamanake, who established the reprogramming process, and his team, activated four genes in mouse skin cells and showed that “over expressing the genes oct4, sox2, klf4, and c-myc can cause the full complement of genes in mouse cells to lose their adult functions,” and begin to work as an embryonic cell. Science Daily (2007) The problem with this is that the new reprogrammed cells were difficult to distinguish between. Therefore, over expressing these genes, though, is based solely upon the placing of a “foreign drug resistance gene” into the skin cells of the mouse. The drug resistance gene’s purpose is to change the cell into embryonic cells so that they’re easily identified. The issue with this method though, is that the foreign drug resistance gene would raise safety concerns halting the ability of it to be used in therapies.Of course, as with all significant advancements, there comes a storm in the middle of the journey. Although scientists have come up with this means of generating stem cells, the biggest problem is translating the mouse cell into human cells.

From the researcher’s perspective, it is believed that man should do anything in their power to better the lives of mankind. “Over expressing genes” as they call it seems like a brilliant idea. The researcher of course, doesn’t know everything about the topic, only what is presented in the article, and those, at times, are misleading. Even so, is seems as though the process can’t cause any harm and that’s the key. Of course, the world would love it if there were a cure for everything, but you can’t take a life to save another. This brings up the fact that although it looks to be harmless, there will always be those on the ethics committee that feel like science is trying to destroy the world. In actuality, the new generation scientists have proven to do more helping than harming.

This article wasn’t really interesting, but it brought to the researcher’s attention that science is expanding as the seconds tick away. It is amazing to read about and try to comprehend the wild ideas of science and even hard to try to fathom where they get these ideas from. The most important part of the article described the way in which the scientists went about extracting these stem cells. Still, the researcher wouldn’t be interested in further investigation of this topic unless they start testing in humans. Even so, the article was informational because the researcher learned that as the days pass, scientists are incessantly trying to come up with safer and more efficient methods of extracting stem cells, which can in turn, save millions.

Science Daily (2007). Secrets of Protein Folding Coming Unblocked. Retrieved September 18, 2007, from Science Daily Web Site:

The purpose of this article, Secrets of Protein Folding Unblocked, is to inform the reader that biophysicists are coming closer to deciphering the once unknown process of how proteins fold into their distinctive three-dimensional shapes. To begin with, a protein is a string of amino acids that take on a variety of tasks in the body such as fighting infections, producing hormones, turn food into energy, creating antibodies and antigens, and copying DNA. The exact task the protein performs is based on its shape, which is determined by the sequence of its amino acids. Because of the protein’s specific shape, it has the ability to carry out its functions.

The process of the protein folding involves the manner in which its elemental make-up works against or with water. Peptides are smaller chains of amino acids and hydrophobic areas, the areas that reject water, still have to get wet. The way in which the water wets these areas, determines the shape and behavior of the peptide. In small hydrophobic groups, for example, approximately the size of a water molecule, it seems as though these groups, as opposed to the groups with several water molecules, don't bother the water. The molecules of water can no longer wrap around the hydrophobic surface, and as it is driven away from the surface, drying occurs. The drying determines the shape of the peptide whereas the situation is that of “dry it off then fold it up”.
Scientists use the technique of molecular dynamics simulation and thus far, they’ve only been able to simulate about a microsecond of the life of a peptide. In order to simulate larger proteins, they’d have to increase that time up to milliseconds.

Actually completing the process of calculating the protein structure based on the protein sequence may take some more time and extensive research, but in the end, it’ll be overly beneficial in the medical and biological field. Not only will the definition of the structure aid in the designing of drugs, it will also assist in the “engineering of protein shapes for uses in nanotechnology and bioenergy.” (ScienceDaily 2007)

This article wasn’t much of an experiment as it was a description of research completed, which basically dealt with how close science is coming to determining how proteins fold into their distinctive shape. Seemingly, finding out the method of protein folding can cause no harm to mankind or the environment so there’s no reason as to why the research shouldn’t continue. Considering the completion of the discovery can result in the creation on new drugs and the advancement in areas such as nanotechnology, the researcher is completely convinced that “the show must go on”.

The researcher found this article to be slightly interesting, but more informational that anything else. This is becausethe topic focuses on describing what they’ve deciphered thus far as to determining the process of protein folding, which from the researcher’s perspective was the most important part. The article may have captured the attention of the reader if the scientists knew exactly how the protein folds and described the various uses of the newly gathered information. But because science hasn’t advanced to that level yet, the article couldn’t have possible contained those details. When they finally cross that border, the researcher would be glad to further investigate the topic.