El camino hacia la doble hélice, la estructura del ADN

Hace cincuenta años, el 25 de abril de 1953, James Watson y Francis Crick publicaron una breve carta en la revista científica Nature . Describía una notable estructura helicoidal de dos cadenas para el ADN, el material genético de los organismos vivos. Su modelo de doble hélice proporcionó la clave para entender cómo las células vivas pueden producir dos copias exactas de sí mismas y cómo el material genético almacena toda la información para sintetizar las proteínas necesarias para la creación de un organismo viviente.

Un segundo avance de capital importancia se produjo algunos meses después, cuando Max Perutz descubrió una técnica para determinar las estructuras de moléculas de gran tamaño, como la mioglobina y la hemoglobina. Desde entonces, el análisis estructural por rayos X de las moléculas de proteínas nos ha ayudado a comprender la química de las reacciones biológicas.

Ambos descubrimientos, la estructura del ADN y la de las proteínas, se hicieron en el Laboratorio Cavendish de la Universidad de Cambridge. Entonces, ¿por qué dos hitos fundamentales de la revolución en la biología y la medicina, que dominaron la ciencia de la segunda mitad del siglo 20, vieron la luz en un laboratorio británico de física ?

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