Dr.ManjulaDr. Manjula Weerasekera, Senior Lecturer,
Visiting Lecturer, KIU Sri Lanka

Molecular biology is a science that studies the biosynthesis and interactions of molecules such as DNA, RNA and proteins leading to cellular functions.  It is a science which provides insight into the molecular basis of heredity and protein expression. Further the contribution of this field in disease diagnosis and identification of hereditary disorders is immense. The Molecular biology field overlaps with other areas, particularly biology, genetics and biochemistry.

Molecular biology helps us to understand how genes are used to form proteins which are known as protein expression. This process is a complex process involving many different cellular mechanisms which can transcribe DNA into messenger RNA and then translate them into proteins. Further the techniques of molecular biology provide a platform for manipulating genes for therapeutic, diagnostic, agricultural and industrial purposes. biology

Several techniques are used in the field of molecular biology, such as Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), gene cloning and molecular typing. PCR is one of the most important novel techniques used in molecular biology which replicate specific DNA enabling generation a large number of copies of gene of interest. It is commonly used in diagnosis of diseases such as HIV, Dengue and also is used in paternity testing in forensic medicine, to match     criminal samples.

Cloning is another important technique widely used in molecular biology to detect gene expression.  In cloning the DNA that codes for a particular protein is cloned or copied into an expression vector called a plasmid. The plasmid is introduced to either an animal cell or a bacterial cell this promotes expression of the gene of interest. The gene of interest usually is a gene that either expresses specific protein. This protein expression is used in the field of medicine for example the production of   insulin or it can be used in industry.

Genetic finger printing is another new field in molecular biology that is used in epidemiology.  The specific genetic profile of an organism will be determined and applied to investigate source of infection, virulence genes and especially to identify the circulating strains in a geographic area during an outbreak of disease. This enables us to understand the circulating strains in a particular geographic area thus enabling us to manufacture vaccines

Molecular biology is the cutting edge in research today, helping us to understand the molecular basis of disease, helping in accurate diagnosis, further there is huge impact on treatment especially in malignancies as the role of gene therapy for cancer is the future.

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