In 2003, after a fierce scientific race (depicted in another documentary from the same series which won the past edition of the Festival) two competing research teams have unveiled the human genome sequence.
For the first time ever, we are holding the “book of life” in our hands. However, reading it is just the first step. The ultimate goal is to understand how it works. The latest scientific research projects are disclosed by two very special guides: Francis Collins and Craig Venter, leaders of the two teams mentioned above.
The initial task is to single out the genes, i.e. the functional DNA portion that codes for proteins and translates genetic information into biological actions. With the help of compelling animation, the documentary shows a number of techniques used to find the genes, “smalls islands in a vast sea of DNA”.
The next task is to work out the function of the proteins produced by these genes. Since many different proteins can be derived from the same gene, this is a daunting task. The ‘holy grail’ of genomics is to program computers to predict the function of a protein from the sequence of its gene - still a distant goal. World experts such as Nobel Prize winners Hamilton Smith and Michael Smith take turns telling the compelling story of genetic research.
The Festival will also screen Some New Tricks with DNA, another documentary from the same series.