Who were Crick and Watson?

In 1953, Francis Crick and his research colleague James Watson decoded the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), i.e. the structure of the genome, and developed a spatial model of the double helix. To this day, this discovery is considered a revolution in molecular biology, which was also decisive for developments in genetic engineering.
The two researchers proved that DNA consists of two rows of molecules that face each other and twist to form a double strand, the so-called double helix. On February 28, 1953, Watson and Crick assembled the first wire and cardboard model of the double helix at the Cavendish Laboratory (Medical Research Council Unit for the study of the molecular structure of biological systems) in Cambridge (UK).

Secret of life in DNA

For the first time, they created a vivid picture of how the genetic material of the organism is actually structured: in the form of two twisted rope ladder molecules with only 4 elements – the bases adenine (A) and thymine (T) as well as guanine (G) and cytosine (C). The Crick-Watson model laid the foundation for an insight into the structure of life.

In 1962, the two Cambridge researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine together with Maurice Wilkins, who had introduced the scientists to the measurement method of X-ray crystallography.

advances over the past 50 years

The entire further course of action in genetic engineering rested on the basis of the discovery of Crick and Watson. The industrial production of  insulin  from genetically modified bacteria became possible. First children conceived outside the womb were born. The first human gene therapy could be carried out, and in February 2001 the Human Genome Project (HUGO) and the company Celera Genomics announced that they had now identified 99 percent of the human genome.


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