Thirty years ago two scientists at Cambridge, Crick and Watson, discovered the structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the chemical structure ultimately responsible for hereditary control of life functions.
1. SV PAN STILL DNA Helix 0.08
2. NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH, LONDON, UK. JUNE 1984
GVs and SVs Lab technicians at work (6 shots) 0.30
3. KENTUCKY, USA. MAY 1984
GVs AND SVs Horse in field. INTERIOR Identical colts in pen (2 shots) 0.42
4. MILAN, ITALY
SV Factory. GVs AND SVs Pollution in river (5 shots) 0.56
GVs AND SVs Rice fields with water buffalo (3 shots) 1.04
6. GHANA, AFRICA
SVs INTERIOR Miners extracting gold. Gold bars being weighed (3 shots) 1.18
7. NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH, LONDON, UK. JUNE 1984
SV ZOOM INTO SCU Dr. Frank Grosveld, head of genetic laboratory, speaking (SOT) SOUND UNDER PICTURES OF Vaccination being carried out in Third World SV Grosveld speaking. SOUND CONTINUES UNDER Vaccination pictures. SV Grosveld speaking. SOUND CONTINUES UNDER PICTURES OF Vaccination programme in Brazil (18 shots) 3.47
WILLS (SEQ 7): "What do you think the major developments will be in genetic engineering?"
GROSVELD: I think the major developments, in the very short-term, will be the first applications from the bio-technology field and the industries. They are, at the moment, very close to starting to mass-produce a number of what we call natural substances on a commercial level and well-known type of products insulin at the moment Interferon is, of course, a very much talked about potential drug, which is actually a substance which naturally occurs in the body, and then of course another major development is the development of vaccines, new vaccines where normally it is impossible in certain cases to develop safely new vaccines, using, say, a complete virus, now we can take a gene out of that virus and make a vaccine against that particular component which will therefore also work against the virus as a whole. This, for instance, is very far advanced now for hepatitis, which, of course, is a very common disease."
WILLS: "So this should bring down the cost of drugs?"
GROSVELD: "This will...yes, I think it will bring down the costs of particular kind of drugs, other drugs, the chemical type of drugs, of course nothing's going to change. But it will bring down antibiotics--I think at the moment it will create a whole new category of drugs or compounds that could be used for treatment, and it will create the possibility of developing many new vaccines which, of course, eliminates the use of drugs altogether, and that, of course, is what I would think is one of the best applications that we could get out of this field."
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Background: VARIOUS LOCATIONS
Thirty years ago two scientists at Cambridge, Crick and Watson, discovered the structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the chemical structure ultimately responsible for hereditary control of life functions. The discovery brought about an explosion in biochemistry which led to genetic engineering. A new breed of scientist has emerged--the gene hunter--exploring the mechanics of human inheritance at their most basic level in the chemistry of genes. Their work is emerging in an industry which could transform the future--offering hope in the fight against killer diseases and famine. But research will increasingly present complex moral problems. The possibilities opened up are both exhilarating and frightening, but it may well be, as with nuclear fission, that genetic engineering is a two-edged sword.
SYNOPSIS: The three-dimensional model of DNA. In the 1950's, Watson convinced Crick that knowledge of its three-dimensional structure would make its hereditary role apparent. The determination of the structure was widely regarded as the most important discovery of the 20th century biology, for it opened up whole new avenues of research.
A laboratory where the gene hunters work. Throughout the 50's and 60's, the pace was frenetic and a broad picture of the DNA emerged. The idea of a self-replicating double helix, each strand capable of acting as a template, or pattern, for the manufacture of the other was a powerful tool. In the 1970's, techniques became available to directly manipulate genes using a collection of enzymes. By 1977, scientists were able to make genes, and the way was open for the commercial exploitation to fight disease and famine. Millions have been invested in small genetic engineering companies which are expected to become the major corporations of the 1990's. Already, human insulin has been produced commercially and a vaccine for hepatitis. Interferon has also been produced by genetic engineering. Work is progressing on influenza and polio vaccines. There is also considerable activity in the non-human areas. Better livestock and plant production could change the world's agricultural map. In the future, human therapy could well include gene replacement therapy, and all manner of hereditary diseases could be brought under control.
Question and Answer, two colts bred in the USA by splitting the mother's embryo. Strong commercial pressures to improve animal survival rates will speed genetically engineered animal vaccines. There will also be new breeds of super-animals. Australian scientists are already working on a super-sheep, possibly one-third larger than average, which sheds its wool without being sheared.
Plant bio-technology has also taken off in recent years. In third world countries it would be possible to enrich crops with amino acids and increase their nutritional value. There are also plans to improve plant disease resistance so that they can withstand salinity, adverse temperatures and humidity.
It may even be possible to extract minerals from the earth without the costly and inefficient methods in use now. There are limitless possibilities for new fuels and foodstuffs and the use of microbes to increase oil production.
One of the top scientists in the field, Dr. Frank Grosveld of London's National Institute for Medical Research, explained to Visnews' reporter Peter Wills the sort of products which could be produced in the near future.
Source: REUTERS LIBRARY AND REUTERS - KEN HARDING