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Molecular biology: what it is and its importance

The main phenomena of life occur in the cell, since it is the primordial unit that allows living beings to exist. Within these cells are multiple molecules of different composition, function, and structure. All this in a complex interdependent machinery. If you want to know more about this topic, continue reading this article in which we will define what molecular biology is and its importance for human beings.

What is molecular biology and what does it study?

Molecular biology conducts its studies at the cellular level and is directed exclusively to the molecules found here. This study includes:

Interesting: Mitochondria: function and structure

Cells produce a variety of molecules, for example to encode information or to communicate. But they also have molecules to be able to fulfill their functions of growth, reproduction or storage . According to their complexity and composition they can be divided into small organic molecules, macromolecules and inorganic compounds. Next, we will see them in more detail:

  • Small organic molecules : they are the sugars, fatty acids, amino acids and nucleotides that, when united, form more complex molecules.
  • Macromolecules : they are built with various small organic molecules and generate polysaccharides, lipids, phospholipids, proteins, and the most important for the study of biology: the nucleic acids organized in the form of DNA and RNA. Small molecules are transformed and generate new molecules of high molecular weight, compared to small organic molecules.
  •  Inorganic compounds : they are the medium in which cellular activities occur. They have transport, pH regulation and structural functions. These compounds are divided into water and electrolytic mineral salts.

What is Molecular Biology: Applications

Applications of molecular biology: importance in medicine: It focuses especially on genetic studies of DNA and RNA, from which the physical and metabolic characteristics of living beings emerge. biology has wide application for human development.

Gene therapy

The study of DNA and RNA has been able to explain congenital and hereditary diseases originating in genes. Along with this discovery came the possibility of generating solutions to cure diseases of this type. An example is gene therapy, which consists of introducing a functional gene into a patient’s cells to correct the genetic defect causing a disease. This mechanism can also be used to prevent the expression of harmful genes, such as cancer-causing oncogenes. This gene therapy not only works against genetic diseases, but has also been applied to combat viruses or autoimmune diseases . Here genes are inserted that prevent the replication of the virus, or the body’s immune response.

Genetic cloning

Application of molecular biology in agriculture: importance in medicine: The study of genes occurs with the help of genetic cloning. For this, a gene is introduced into another organism by means of a vector that carries the exogenous gene. These can be bacteria, plasmids, viruses or yeast. This chosen organism is multiplied to obtain several organisms with cloned genes for a particular function. This is known as genetic cloning and its objective is to obtain many copies of a gene to study , with multiple applications for the knowledge of harmful genes or the search for treatments.

Vaccine manufacturing

Application of molecular biology in agriculture: Another application of molecular biology for medicine is the manufacture of vaccines. For this, antibodies against particular viruses or bacteria are isolated and multiplied with the help of molecular biology.

What is molecular biology: Farming

Application of molecular biology in agriculture: Molecular biology does not apply only to human beings, but to all living beings. We depend on them directly or indirectly and the application to other organisms can also benefit our development. An example of this is agriculture, where it is possible to genetically modify crops so that they resist pests, climatic factors or have a more efficient and high production rate, meaning a lower need for fertilizers or pesticides that translate into expenses for the farmers.

Food industry

Applications of molecular biology: Molecular biology has also been used in industry. It mainly occurs in the food industry. It has been possible to create flavourings, sweeteners, flavourings, vitamins or gelling agents through improved microbial strains using molecular technology .

Importance of molecular biology

Some of the fields in which we highlight the importance of molecular biology are the following:

Medicine

Molecular biology has made it possible to discover the genes responsible for the expression of everything that makes up living beings. This science developed the Polymerase Chain Reaction technique, with which the human being could be genetically and completely sequenced in the Human Genome Project. This means that this knowledge can be used to detect diseases. In addition to the medical importance that this has, knowledge of the human genome has an intrinsic value independent of the applied function that can be given to it.

Importance in medicine: Thanks to the techniques generated from molecular biology, it has been possible to advance rapidly in the field of medicine, both in alternatives, in case traditional treatments are not enough, and in complete solutions without which it would not be possible to treat to the patients.

What is molecular biology: Social development

The advance in the knowledge of the basic units of life, such as DNA, has achieved that we have an advanced development as humanity. It has been possible to take advantage of the land in a more sustainable way for food production with fewer external resources and there has also been a social impact because the food injustice gap in countries with scarce resources has been reduced. In conclusion, we can affirm that molecular biology improves the quality of life of human beings in all aspects.

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