Across the world, hundreds of thousand of scientists are pioneering the Life genetic landscape, one might say that this is one trait of the human species, to explore the unknown and try to make sense of it. Increasing our knowledge about the universe we live in is certainly the best way to ensure a durable and harmonious and relationship with it. Fundamental research in genetics is one of our answer to this philosophical question.
However, there are also some practical applications to genetic and biology.
For instance, if we understand how something works, then we can fix it when it breaks. Indeed, many pathologies, such as Cancers, Metabolic diseases or Neurodegenerative diseases, are gene related. Understanding the genetic factors of risk helps improve the medical cares. Identifying the genetic drivers of a pathology, such as a specific alteration (i.e.mutation) in one crucial gene, allows us to try to fix that gene to cure the disease: here we are talking about Gene Therapy.
At last, let’s consider that one of the utter achievements of Life was to create many ways to :
1) incorporate inorganic carbon (e.g. CO2) into organic molecules (e.g. protein, lipids, carbohydrate and even DNA)
2) convert any kind of organic molecules into another one, using sophisticated and efficient metabolic pathways. Metabolism is the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms, that will either build up (anabolism or biosynthesis) organic molecules or break them down (catabolism) for energy production or molecular recycling purposes. In other words, Life has created and perfected a fantastic toolbox that can be used to organize carbon-based molecules at the cellular level for many purposes: energy production, energy storage, structural organization, information storage, communication, self-reproduction…
Metabolism of each organism is operated by specific networks of proteins that are encoded in their genome. So the Toolbox has an instruction notice, written in DNA. This means we can use our fundamental knowledge of genetics to modify simple organisms (bacteria, yeast, micro-algae…) and make them bio-produce specific molecules: biofuels, biomaterials or biological drugs for instance. Such modified micro-organisms can be cultivated in confined facility called Biorefinery. Bioproduction or Biotechnology is a strong and durable alternative to petrochemistry and relies on efficient genetic engineering technologies.