The "code of life" is based on an alphabet made of four letters A (adenine), T (thymine), C (cytosine), and G (guanine), which are organized in the shape of a double helix. For many years, scientists and biologists have questioned the existence of genes and their nature. What is now almost a "axiom", was before a topic of inquiry and hypotheses. When the "secret of life" was revealed on February 28, 1953, by the British physicist Francis Crick and the American biologist James Watson, this discovery opened to the world fascinating possibilities.
The discovery was made in a Cavendish laboratory at the University of Cambridge thanks to careful examination of X-ray crystallography images taken by Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, who unfortunately passed away before receiving the Nobel Prize, which cannot be given posthumously, but who were actively involved in the research.
On April 25, 1953, Nature published the finding that "revolutionized biology" and provided previously unimaginable insights into the study of genetic diseases and the battle against cancer. In 1962, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins were rightfully given the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Knowledge of DNA sequences allows us to identify the genetic causes of many inherited diseases, develop targeted drugs, and create genetic therapies. The new frontier is personalized medicine, made possible by the discovery of the DNA double helix, which we are now celebrating the seventieth anniversary of.
In recent years our efforts, at the Sbarro Institute, to develop "targeted and intelligent drugs" have been focused on putting "brakes" on the growth of cancer cells by using molecules that can "mimic" the effects of tumor suppressor genes. More specifically, the most recent studies are aimed at inhibiting the AKT protein and reactivating the activity of key tumor suppressors, which have caused, in experimental studies, the arrest of the cell cycle and the death of cancer cells, especially those responsible for lung cancer and mesothelioma. However, there is still much to do to put an end to the fight against cancer.
Professor Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D. is the Founder and Director of Sbarro Health Research Organization based at the College of Science and Technology, Temple University, Philadelphia. Connect with him on his social media channels to follow more updates: (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram)