This Experiment First Cracked the Genetic Code—But Most People Have Never Heard of It

One of the most important experiments in the world manages to fly under most people’s radar. After years of patient experimental work, two scientists managed to figure out how one code in DNA translated into an actual, physical protein.

Source: This Experiment First Cracked the Genetic Code—But Most People Have Never Heard of It

It’s nice to see a headline on the net not confusing the genetic code with the genetic sequence. Only the latter is something akin to the source code of computer science, whereas the former governs how genetic information is translated into proteins.

Easy DNA Editing Will Remake the World. Buckle Up.

They were worried about what people called “recombinant DNA,” the manipulation of the source code of life. It had been just 22 years since James Watson, Francis Crick, and Rosalind Franklin described what DNA was—deoxyribonucleic acid, four different structures called bases stuck to a backbone of sugar and phosphate, in sequences thousands of bases long. DNA is what genes are made of, and genes are the basis of heredity.

Preeminent genetic researchers like David Baltimore, then at MIT, went to Asilomar to grapple with the implications of being able to decrypt and reorder genes. It was a God-like power—to plug genes from one living thing into another. Used wisely, it had the potential to save millions of lives. But the scientists also knew their creations might slip out of their control. They wanted to consider what ought to be off-limits.

I highly recommend reading if you’re at all interested in editing DNA to see the history of how the current tools have come forward, and why the power to do so should not be taken lightly.