John Libbey Eurotext

Annales de Biologie Clinique


Il y a cinquante ans, la double hélice donnait naissance à la biologie moléculaire... Volume 61, issue 6, Novembre-Décembre 2003


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Laboratoire de biochimie de l‘ADN, CHU Grenoble jlunardichu‐
  • Key words: DNA, molecular biology, genetics, molecular medicine, biotechnologies
  • Page(s) : 623-33
  • Published in: 2003

Fifty years ago, a paper signed by two young scientists, James Watson and Francis Crick, and reporting a model for DNA based on a double helix structure was published in the scientific review Nature in date of april 25, 1953. Although this model of striking simplicity and rare elegance was actually worked out in a few months by the two men, it was the result of quite 100 years of research aimed at the definition of the structure of the genetic material present in living organisms. The double helix was the outcome of a multidisciplinary approach initiated in the mid 19 th century by the genetic laws of Gregor Mendel and the discovery of the chemical nature of the desoxyribonucleic acid by Johann Friedrich Miesher. The discovery of the DNA structure had been at the origin of major scientific progress regarding mechanisms that rule the replication and the expression of the genetic information. Theses researches have given birth to a new scientific field, molecular biology, which everyone will see very soon is actually part in a quasi symbiotic manner of all other biological fields dealing with life. The spectacular development of molecular biology during the last fifty years was in great part possible thanks to a concomitant enormous development of the different methods of investigation of the biological molecules and structure. The present rising of biotechnology applications is the direct consequence of the tremendous amount of fundamental knowledge gained during the last few decennia. They open very important and attractive perspectives both on medical or on socio‐economic point of views. There is no doubt that the next fifty years will be as fruitful as the last ones.