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  • It involves development of certain special life forms & systems that help in obtaining maximum benefits not only for mankind but also for other living organisms while obtaining in optimum.
  • Genetic Engineering  or recombined DNA technology is considered a tool of biotechnology in whichby deliberate human manipulation a foreign but desirable gene is inserted into DNA of  an unrelated organism resulting in formation of a DNA molecule that has got genetic material from two or more unrelated sources.Such a DNA is called Recombinant DNA.Biotechnology has got wide ranging

a. Applications

  • In the field of agriculture, biotechnology has been used to develop genetically modified organisms or transgenic

organisms that are able to produce in less time. Such organisms would ensure food security in food source country.

  • Biotechnology has widest application in the field of health.It can be used in making safe cost effective vaccines e.g.,Hepatitis
  • It can be used in making important proteins such as Insulin, Thyrotropin, Somatropin, Interferon that can be of great help in treating various childhood hormonal disorder e.g.
  • It can also be used in making bio- diagnostic kits which is used to detect various diseases before they become
  • It can be used in the preparation of scarce enzymes such as urokinase. This enzyme helps in dissolution of blood
  • In the field of Energy and Environment, Genetically Modified Bacteria can be used to enhance oil exploration by a technique called Microbial enhanced oil Recovery(MEOR) in which bacteria acts as a surface tension   reducing   agent (surfactants)            helping in increasing oil extraction from 30% to 60%.
  • GMB can also be used to transform non biodegradable wastes such as plastics, synthetic, pesticides etc
  • In the field of Industry, Biotech can also be used to prepare alcohol, ethanol, acids such as lactic acid, tartaric acid, acetic acid various amino acids that are used for pharmaceutical purposes. This technology can also be used for producing vitamins, antibiotics & steroids on a massive

b. Demerits

  • It can be misused to form biological weapons of mass destruction.
  • The inserted gene segment may express to form a harmful protein that may result in various diseases
  • Biotech holds a lightly possibility of bringing extinct organisms each to life
  • Scientists at present stage of R & D may likely commit a mistake whose consequence can’t be foretold.
  • Biotech if misused may result in depletion of biodiversity e.g.At present biotechnological research is focused in developing 29 plant varieties that are able to cater to

90 % almost of the food requirement of man kind. If such discriminate biotech research effects continue they would result in other plant loss species along with dependent plant species, as on  every  plant  species  there are

about 30 – 40 dependent animal species such efforts would interfere in the natural process of selection and evolution of biodiversity.

c. Steps taken by Government of India:

  • A department of Biotechnology was established in 1986 working under ministry of Science & Technology, Department of Biotechnology is responsible for promoting, planning and coordinating various biotechnological projects taken up by GOI which are as follows:
    • Development of safe and cost effective vaccines & holding immunization camps especially for weaker and more susceptible sections of society.
    • Increase oil seed production by using tissue culture technique in plants. E.g. coconut.
    • Developing high yielding varieties of plants and animals.
  • Cattle herd improvement by Embryo Transmit Technique(ETT).
  • Developing improved & safe fertility controlled

Institutes involved in this process are

  • IARI – Indian Agricultural Research
  • NTN – National Institute  of Nutrition (Hyderabad)
  • IISc – Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  • Control Drug Research Institute (Lucknow)
  • Centre for cellular & molecular biology Hyderabad
  • Institute of microbial technology, Chandigarh
  • International centre for genetic engineering and biotechnology established by          UN  Industrial Development organisation(UNIDO) to provide International Research links in biotechnology.


  • It is a process of asexual reproduction in which the offspring or the progeny produced is an exact genetic replica of the single present donor which has donated his/her genetic material by way of donating nucleus present in any of the body’s somatic or non – reproductive cell.In contrast sexual reproduction involves inheritance of genetic material from both the parents equally.JBS Haldane(America) in 1963 theorized cloning stated that every cell has the necessary technical knowhow in the form of genetic material to raise entire individual. One individual is able to create a new individual by obtaining the genetic material form any of the body’s livingcell. Male donor results in formation of a male clone whereas female donor provides female clone. Cloning also exists naturally for example, Bacteria divides asexually in bacterial clones. Monozygotic twins are clones to each other.Cloning in plants is called tissue culture technique by which large number- of disease free saplings can be produced in no time specially in those plant where the process of seed germination of e.g., sandalwood and rubber, growth and development is slow.E.g. Bamboo tissue culture is of great help in commercially valuable crops such as sugarcane, turmeric plantation crops, species etc. These crops can be micropropagated fast and desirable tree varieties can be produced rapidly increasing the profits of the farmers.

7.2.1  Animal Cloning

  • Animal cloning experiment succeeded when in Feb , 1997 a team of scientists led by Professor. Ian Wilmut from Roslin Institute, Edinburg, Scotland, UK successfully cloned 1st mammal sheep Dolly. This success led to cloning of other animals since then large no of animals have been cloned E.g. Mice, Cow, Goat, pig, Rabbit, cat, mule, horse and a wild puppy known as snuppy in Seoul National university South Korea. Animal cloning experiments though are one step forward, the cloned animals have not been able to complete their life span as they have fallen prey to various genetic disease.E.g. Dolly died of arthritis and degenerative lung disease.Still animal cloning experiments can be of great helps in preserving rare species.

7.2.2 Human Cloning

  • Cloning in human beings is practised by a technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer in which a deployed nucleus containing 46 chromosomes from any of the body cells of the donar is transferred to e – nucleated egg. The manipulated egg is stimulated by electrical shocks of various chemicals to start dividing within a week.This single cell becomes a ball of 200 – 300 unspecialised cell. This stage is called as Blastocyst. Human cloning is of two types on the basis of the fate Blastocyst:
  • Reproductive human cloning
  • Therapeutic human cloning Reproductive human cloning

  • If blastocyst is implanted in the uterus of either surrogate or original mother, it is thought that probably it would developinto a new individual.But there has been no conclusive proof when so many cloned animals are dying of genetic diseases. Reproductive human cloning is still believed to be a for fetched   Therapeutic human cloning

  • It involves use of initial unspecialised blastocyst cell to develop into genetically similar body pacts to replace the damaged or torn out body organs.Therefore therapeutic cloning provides effective genetically similarreplacement material. It is of great help in providing therapy in various degenerative

7.2.3 Uses of cloning:

  • Cloning can help us understand the process of ageing and once understoodit can be effectively postponed or
  • It will help us understandwhy certain adult body cells reversed to original embryonic condition of rapid division resulting in formation of cancers
  • Therapeutic cloning is of greatest help in treating various degenerative diseases e.g. diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzhemier, spinal cord injuries , burns etc
  • Therapeutic cloning can also help in regenerating some of those body parts that do not effectively regenerate if damaged

e.g. neuron, heart muscle cells

  • Reproductive human cloning can also be considered in those childless couples who are suffering from incurable infertility (unable to produce viable gametes)

7.2.4 Ban on Cloning and the ethical issues involved:

  • Reproductive human cloning experiments are being opposed on various ethical & environmental grounds
  • WHO has denounced R. H. C experiments considering them ethically unacceptable for the reason that they undermine society’s respect for human life.Such experiments destroy the known social structures and institutions like marriages, family etc.They would likely to bring in fundamental changes in the society as people may opt to produce their clones to raise their families without entering wed lock.Moreover family identities and relationships may get blurred. So as the offspring produced would be considered a sibling or a progeny.
  • Increased cloning tendency would result in loss of genetic diversity in  human It may interfere with natural process of selection affecting evolution of human beings as a species.
  • The prolifer group led by Pope opposes human cloning on the ground that it is an unnatural, unnecessary man’s attempt to play the role of God.These experiments would result in large scale creation and destruction of human embryos which is similar to using human life as an experimental subject which is highly unethical.
  • Human cloning experiments may be misused to raise clone armies that would result in subjugation of human race which were this clones would be consider slaves having no right what so ever
  • Scientist at present stage of R& D are likely commit to mistakes that may result in serious mutationswhose consequences cannot be predicated
  • This technology also misused by private individuals & organisation for commercial purposes ignoring the general interests of the society

Legal Ban

  • In 1998, 19 European countries signed an agreement under which they have agreed to banhuman cloning experiments for reproductive purposes for next

20   years.USA   has   also   banned such   experiments   for   10   years. Depth of Biotech in India has also banned  human  reproductive experiments

  • In October 2004 United Nations adopted a non binding declaration that prohibited all attempts to create human life through cloning or any research achieving this aim. Therefore indirectly UNs has allowed member nations to continue with therapeutic cloning. In this regard UK became the 1st country to provide legal authorisation from Government’s Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority to perform therapeutic cloning using human embryo to treat serious diseases. In May 2005, New Castle University which was allotted the 1st license successfully claimed to produce an early stage human embryo by nuclear transfer technique and that will be used for treating diabetes and license was given to Ian Wilmut for conducting research by using human embryo in treating motorneuron


  • Stem cells are undifferentiated primitive blank cells that have not yet grown into any recognisable part of the human body.They have the ability to be coaxed to develop into any if the 220 different types of specialised cells of the body.So stem cells are the very early cell capable of transforming into any type of cells and tissues in the body

7.3.1  Types of Stem cells

  • Embryonic Stem Cells
    • These are far more advantageous they are highly prolific and can develop into millions of cells. Therefore they are considered totipotent in
  • These cells can specialise into any type of body cells. Therefore they are pluripotent in nature but their use results in violation of ethical Adult or Somatic stem cells

  • These are some of the already specialised body   cells   that still

contain some of the ability to specialise differently.These cells are rare and difficult to be identified and isolated and their ability is divide and specialise is for more restricted.

E.g, Bone marrow cells, umbilical cord blood

  • Wharton’s Jelly,a cushioning substance found in umbilical cord, is believed to be a rich source of obtaining stem cells non-invasively and non- Use of adult stem cells does not violate any ethical issue. Hybrid stem cells are those adult or somatic cells that can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent cells. In this adult somatic cells genetic expression is reprogrammed so that it starts functioning as embryonic cells.
  • Stem cell colony/line is a self replenish able colony of embryonic stem cells from which any amount of stem cellscan be harvested without apparent limit.however it is extremely difficult to establish such a colony

as   stem   cell   colony   is   highly sensitive  to  even  slightest fluctuations in   nutrient availability   and   environment.So far  more  them  78  colonies  have been established by a hand full of countries,   India   being   one   of them and the 2 centres are

  1. Reliance life science centre, Mumbai
  2. National centre for Biological sciences Bangalore Uses of Stem Cell

  • Stem cell have opened a new branch of medicine known as regenerative medicine as they can be induced to develop into specific body tissues replacing the damaged ones. They can be used in Alzheimer, diabetics, Parkinsonism, burns, spinal cord injuries
  • They can also be induced to develop into blood cells so that any amount the blood can be created for some blood fusionin various genetic diseases as visible cell anaemia,
  • Stem cells also help in development cheap and effective drugs within a short period of time as they can be made to grow into specific body tissues on which drugs can be tested without violating animal rights as well. They can be used to study the process of embryonic development and therefore this understanding would minimise the occurrence of congenital malformations. Ethical question involved in use of stem cells

  • There is no ethical question, however, the Prolifer group led by the Pope opposes the Stem cell research on ethical grounds. It considers life to start from the very 1st day of conception and therefore it is highly unethical to use living human embryos as experimental
  • This research would also result in large scale construction and destruction of human embryo On the other hand some researchers maintain that within first 14 days embryo can’t be considered a living human being as the Stem cell has not yet developed into identifiable body organs. They also say to treat infertility; multiple embryos are created for the process for Invitro fertilisations (IVF) to treat infertility. These leftover embryos can be put to research for treating various degenerative human ailments.
  • Other countries involved in Stem cell research are Australia, Japan, Singapore, Israel, Sweden, U.K, South Korea and


  • It was one of the most innovative the largest biological project ever launched as a consortium of scientists from 18 different countries. It was launched in 1990 its succeeded including 24 different human chromosomes by June 2 Human Genome refers to complete set of genetic instructions in the form of nitrogenous base pair that constitute  DNA  in every cell  of the human body.
  • This DNA is present in the form of tightly coiled thread like structure known as chromosome. Human Genome Project succeeded in decoding 1st the 22ndchromosome which is the smallest chromosome followed by 21st and 20th and so

7.4.1  Benefits  of  Human Genomics

  • Human Genome is of great value in the field of molecular medicine as it helps in improving diagnosis of diseases and identifying India’s genetic predisposition to a particular disease. Therefore genetic diseases can be permanently cured by instituting gene therapy. Tailor made drugs can be made to suit individual’s requirement and minimise the adverse
  • In the field of human evolutions Human Genome can help in understanding the pattern of human evolution that has taken place over thousands of year. Once understood it would help in predicting the future course of evolution.
  • In the field of DNA forensic, genetic Information can help in identifying the war victims specially dead soldiers whose bodies have been mutilated beyond recognition.
  • It can also be used in settling paternity disputes in case of illegal exchange of newborn
  • Criminals identity can be pin- pointedly established on the basis of the body samples left behind by him/her in the form of hair, nail, skin or body fluids at the scene of the crime and this would help in strengthening the criminal justice
  • This information can also help in minimising organ transplant rejection reaction as organs can be cross matched in geneticsimilarity before transplantation.
  • On the field of plant and animal genomics (plants and animals such as rice, mice chimpanzee and chicken) more disease and drought resistant, high yielding stronger varieties of crop and livestock can be produced. The food obtained from such crop varieties will be safer to be consumed as such plants would require less amount of pesticides and fertilizer

7.4.2 Potential dangers:

  • Genetic information can be misused by parents who can go for the birth of designer babies where the parents would determine which of their physical factors and personality features their children shall possess. This may seriously restrict human gene pool and will interfere with the natural process of selection resulting in loss of diversity among human population knowing of so called bad genes may effect evolution of human beings as a species.
  • The genetic privacy of an individual may be violated and based upon the genetic information various life and health insurance schemes would not be sold. Moreover, career recruitment and promotional opportunities would also be denied to so called genetically weaker sections of the society. This may have serious social consequences leading to lack of social
  • This information can also be misused for producing biological weapons of mass destruction specially targeted against genetically weaker sections or a particular race susceptible to particular disease leading to social
  • It may also increase the gap between the rich and the poor as the lengths arousing out of such information will benefit mostly the richer sections of the

7.4.3 Measures to prevent the misuse of human genomics:

  • The international bio ethics committee constituted by UNESCO defeatedthe Universal declaration on human genome and  human This declaration was adopted by UNESCO and later on also by UN general assembly. However  this is not legally binding on the members of UNO but it has succeeded in making a distinction between what is possible and what is acceptable use of human genetic   information.                               It represents a moral responsibility on the parts of the member nations to respect right to genetic privacy of Individuals.


  • It is the most revolutionary method of treatment of genetic disorders e.g., diabetics, Haemophilia, Cancers etc. Hereditary diseases occur when the key genes are flawed or missing. The gene therapy aims to either modify or replace the key genes. The technique of Gene therapy involves stripping a harmless virus(Retrovirus) of some of its genes, replacing them in   correct   version   of   defective gene   that   causes   the   diseases. The  manipulated virus (retrovirus)   is   then   introduced into  the  body  to  infect  the  target tissues.    The  advantage  of  using retrovirus   is   that   it   is   able   to break  down  into  its  constituents helping  in  easy  incorporation  of replaced  genes  with  the  genetic material  of  the  target  tissue.    In Dec 1999, a team of doctors from UK and France successfully carried    out    world’s    1st   gene therapy cure against Severe Combined Immuno Deficiency (SCID)   diseases   which   develop therefore  of  a  defective  gene  on 20th   chromosome.    This  gene  is responsible for formation of special  type  of  white  blood  cell (WBC) known as T lymphocyte.

7.5.1  Other uses:

  • It could also be used as a drug delivery system. A gene that manufactures a useful product can be insected into the DNA of

the patient’s cell where the product can be used by the patient’s body. E.g., During blood vessel surgery a gene that make santi-clotting factor could be inserted into the DNA of the cells of the blood vessels to prevent formation of dangerous blood clots.

  • It holds a likely possibility in making body cell resistance to HIV


  • It is a third generation vaccine in the process of Unlike conventional vaccines in which either the microbial agent in attenuated form e.g., Oral Polio vaccine or the vaccines in which a harmful protein also called as microbial antigen prepared by recombinant DNA technology e.g., Hepatise B vaccine is inoculated. In DNA vaccines the DNA or the genetic blueprint of microbial antigen that would initiate immunogenic response in body by synthesizing this harmful protein is inoculated. DNA vaccine holds a
    likely possibility for developing effective vaccines even against disease such as Malaria, T. B, and HIV AIDS that have until now defied the ambit of vaccination.


Interferons are the proteins that function as powerful antiviral agents. They are synthesized by vertebrates in response to viral infections. They are called so as they interfere with the ability of the virus to replicate fast.One type of interferon can be effective against different type of viruses. But animal interferons can’t be used in human beings. Biotechnology holds a likely promise to develop human interferon’s even outside human body.


  • Biological weapons include weaponised form of microscopic living agents in the form of highly toxic or pathogenic strains of bacteria, viruses, fungi and their poisonous products known as toxins. These agents are used in biological warfare to inflict tremendous causalities not only

to mankind but also disturb the delicate ecological balance by killing plants and animals. Thereby leading to a grave medical poll and social crisis of unparalleled intensity.

  • Biological weapons are more popular than conventional warfare systems as they being live agents can be acquired easily and cheaply from either environment or repositories without much logistic support and they are also called as poor man’s atom bomb. Moreover, these agents are used in an invisible aerosol or droplet form, they replicate fast on dissemination. Moreover, their use comes to light only after a brief incubation period, which is required for disease to get manifested this time is sufficient enough for their perpetrators to escape form the place of their


  • These weapons as they are living agents need   special environmental conditions to survive e.g. specific temperature, pressure, sunlight etc. Their use requires strategic planning and meticulous execution.
  • Some of the countries that are believed to have secret clandestine stock piles of such weapons are Russia, USA , China, Libya, North and south Korea, Israel, Taiwan, Syria etc. Eg of these weapons are
  • Plague causing bacteria
  • Anthrax causing bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. It is a spore forming bacteria. It remains encapsulated and remains stable even in difficult situations and can be easily circulated in powder form. These bacteria can be either inhaled, indigested or can come in contact with cut skin. Therefore may result in causing three forms of anthrax
  1. Inhalational anthrax,
  2. Gastro intestinal anthrax
  • Cutaneous anthrax.
  • Inhalation is most dangerous and most common. It results in flu like symptoms that include generalised body ache, fever, cold, respiratory difficulty and may cause Pneumonia the condition may cause death. Anthrax is curable if treated adequately and timely by antibiotics.
  • It is also seen is Cattle, Sheep, Goat, Camel. It can be treated effectively by antibiotics if detected

Yersinia Pestis:

  • It is a plaque causing bacteria which is transmitted by the bite of an agent known as rat flea. It results in a deadly disease which causes rapid death as plaque can be later on transmitted from man to man through

Variola virus:

  • It causes Small pox. According to WHO this agent has been officially eradicated but is readily available with USA and Russia. Some important toxins

Botulinum toxin:

  • Most potent biological weapon as it causes death by paralysing of respiratory muscles Sodium, Thiopental, Pancuronium, KCL]

Certain fungal toxins

  • Aflatoxin, Tricothccene & mycotoxin

Poisonous  Gases/  Chemical weapons

  • Sulphur mustard, Sarin, soman, Tabun,


  • A National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) is established under ministry of Home affairs
  • DRDO and DRDE (Gwalior) they are involved in Research in areas of toxicology and
  • A nuclear biological chemical warfare directorate has been established in services within interservice coordination communication to monitor, prevent and combat use of such weapons
  • Protective clothing has been designed for troops
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prohibition of unlawful activates) act 2005 – to fulfil its obligations as per UNSC resolution no 1540 which makes it mandatory for all UN members to enact a law prohibiting trafficking in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The parliament of India passed above said law in May 2 This act prevents transfer of WMD and technology of their developments from India to other countries


  • DFP is a genetic method of identifying and analysing special sequences of DNA by imaging. A British geneticist known as Alec Jeffery’s in 1984 gene this technique which is based on the principle that every individual has certain unique repeatable sequences of DNA known as mini satellites and by analysing and identifying the pattern of arrangement of these DNA basis one can identify the genetic stock of an individual.

[PAGE – Poly acramide gel electrophoresis ]

  • Purification – Isolation of DNA from the sample obtained from the scene from of crime
  • Cutting =( A DNA molecule is cut at specific locations using DNA knives known’s as Restriction endo nucleus enzymes
  • Electric current – PAGE is subjecting cut DNA fragments to electric current for their separation
  • Blotting (Single hand DNA fragmented)
  • Autoradiography – It is the process of obtaining fingerprints or images of complementary pairing of nitrogenous bases in between DNA Strands in question and DNA probe of similar sequence.

Uses :

  • DFP is used in settling paternity disputes, illegal exchange of newborns
  • This techniques can supplement various crime investigating agencies by providing an irrefutable evidences help in police personnel lawyer and forensic scientists
  • It can also help for diagnosing various genetic diseases, pedigree analysis course of history and identification of genetic
  • In India this technique is improved by using novel probes developed by CCMB centre for cellular and Molecular biology, Hyderabad, a new autonomous centre has been developed for the use of DNA fingerprinting in diagnosis of  various Centre for DNA fingerprinting and diagnostics (CDFD)


  1. Mention the breakthrough made in NCL in the field of plant- genetics and explain its significance. (90/II/8f(C)/3)
  2. Give a brief account of major achievements in the realm of biotechnology in India. (250 words) (91/II/3b/40)
  3. What is tissue culture? (91/II/8c(C)/3)
  4. What is genetic conservation? Bring out the salient features of genetic conservation activity in India. (About 250 words) (93/II/3b/40)
  5. Describe how biotechnology is finding use in medicine. Give a few current   (93/II/7b/20)
  6. What is DNA fingerprinting? Which research institution in India is working in this area? (94/II/7d/20)
  7. What is a gene? Where is it found? (94/II/8f(C)/3)
  8. What are transgenic organisms? What are they used for? (96/II/7d/20)
  9. What is tissue culture? (97/II/8e(C)/3)
  1. What is genetic engineering? Why is it getting increasingly important these  days? (98/II/3b/40)
  2. Why are transgenic organisms important? (98/II/8a(C)/3)
  3. What is the Human Genome Project? Discuss briefly its importance. (99/II/7a/20)
  4. What are biosensors? Describe their uses. (99/II/7d/20)
  5. Where is Centre Cellular and Molecular Biology located? (99/II/10e(i)/1)
  6. How do identical twins differ from each other genetically? (99/II/10f/3)
  7. Discuss Human Genome. (00/I/11b/10)
  8. How are transgenic plants different from hybrid plants and what is their relevance in modern agriculture? (00/II/11a/15)
  9. What are stem cells? Why have they been in the news recently? Discuss. (01/II/10b/30)
  10. “Biotechnology boom may pave a golden path for India.” Discuss. (02/I/10b/30)
  1. What is Human Cloning? Is it dangerous or beneficial? Discuss. (02/II/11c/15)
  2. Discuss the elements of ‘frozen semen technology’. What are ‘embryo transfer’, ‘transgenic animals’, ‘DNA recombinant technique’? (03/II/11c/15)
  3. What is Biotechnology? Discuss the important applications of Biotechnology. (04/II/11b/15)
  4. What is the therapeutic cloning? Describe briefly the method and its potential applications. (05/II/11b/15)
  5. Write a note on ‘Bio-refinery versus Fossil fuels’. (06/II/11b/15)
  6. What are normal osmosis and reverse osmosis? Why has reverse osmosis become popular in India today? (06/II/11c/15)
  7. Short note on Genome. (03/13e/2)(07/I/13e/2)
  8. Explain the objectives and the current achievements of human genome project. (150 words) (07/II/11b/15)
  9. In what way ‘Medical Biotechnology’ and ‘Bioengineering’ are useful for technological development of India?  (250 words) (08/II/10a/30)
  1. What do you understand by

‘Biosignatures’? (09/II/8a/15)

  1. Write about Green Fluorescence Protein (GFP) and its applications. (09/II/8b/15)
  2. Define ‘Bioinformatics’. How does it work? What are its major branches and applications? (09/II/8c/15)
  3. Explain: DNA Finger Printing and its utility. (09/II/9a/10)
  4. Write brief note in about 30 words: Biiometric ATMs. (09/II/10e/3)
  5. Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) technology. (2011/I/9d/5)
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