Antisense Making Lots Of Sense To Biotech Researchers

Author: Joshua Fischman, p. 14, 17.

In the early 1980s, at an international conference on synthetic DNA and disease, molecular biologist James Hawkins first heard what chemists proposed to do with small pieces of synthetic genetic material called antisense DNA. And he was stunned.

"It was the first time," he says, "that there was a clear concept: `Let's send these molecules into a cell and regulate a gene.' This was apocalyptic--that's how profound it was for me." To some people, the concept, while profound, was also somewhat unbelievable. Indeed, Hawkins recalls, if you embraced it fully, "you were seen as a bit of a yahoo at the time, because the basic research wasn't established."

It's not unbelievable anymore. What the researchers were suggesting about antisense DNA at that international conference heralded what many experts now see as the next revolution in...

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