Die DNA wird sechzig

LONDON – Am 25. April 1953 veröffentlichten Francis Crick und James Watson ein einseitiges Dokument, von dem viele erwarteten, dass es die biologische Forschung revolutionieren würde. Aufbauend auf dem Werk von Rosalind Franklin und Maurice Wilkins hatten sie die Doppelhelixstruktur der DNA entdeckt und damit einen ersten Blick darauf ermöglicht, wie Organismen biologische Informationen vererben und speichern. Aber hat ihre Entdeckung sechzig Jahre später wirklich den erwarteten umwälzenden Einfluss?

Der sechzigste Jahrestag der Veröffentlichung wurde von den Medien mit großem Getöse begleitet: als Durchbruch, der “das Zeitalter der Genetik eingeläutet” habe oder als “eine der wichtigsten wissenschaftlichen Entdeckungen aller Zeiten”. In der britischen Zeitung The Guardian erschien die Überschrift “Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag, DNA! Der goldene Moment, der uns alle verändert hat.”

In gewissem Grade ist das richtig. Die Entdeckung legte die Grundlage für die Genetik und ermöglichte vielversprechende neue Forschungsbereiche wie die synthetische Biologie, in der biologische Systeme neu geschaffen oder verändert werden, um bestimmte Aufgaben zu übernehmen. Ebenso ermöglichte sie wichtige Neuerungen wie beispielsweise pharmakogenetische Krebsbehandlung, bei der bestimmte genetische Defekte innerhalb von Krebszellen mit Medikamenten behandelt werden.

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