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Most of the developments in biotechnology have taken place in a very short space of time, beginning with the revelation of the structure of the DNA molecule 50 years ago. To see just how rapidly DNA technology has developed, take a look at the Biotechnology Timeline below.
James Watson from the USA and Francis Crick of England develop the double helix model of DNA which explains the way in which this massive molecule can carry and transmit the hereditary information in living organisms.
The DNA double helix – one of the most easily recognised molecules in the world
Human insulin made by genetically modified bacteria
Alec Jeffreys discovers the technique of genetic fingerprinting which can be used to establish family relationships and to identify criminals.
Sheep embryos are successfully cloned.
DNA fingerprinting – a major breakthrough in crime detection
Professor Ian Wilmut with Dolly the sheep – the first mammal cloned from an adult cell
A US firm buys the technology used to clone Dolly in a bid to clone cells from patients to produce new organs for transplanting in therapeutic stem cell cloning.
A prototype GM golden rice, with enhanced beta carotene for vitamin A production, was developed with the aim of reducing the health problems resulting from lack of vitamin A which affect millions of people globally.
2000 Cloned pigs born for the first time, produced by Alan Coleman and his team at PPL.
The first plant genome, Arabidopsis thaliana, is sequenced by teams from the USA, France and Japan.
The first insect genome is sequenced by teams in the USA and Europe. The insect used is the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, widely used in genetics experiments.
Golden rice compared to white rice
The first cloned kitten (CC or Carbon Copy) is born.
CC, the first cloned cat, looked very different to her genetically identical mother
Next-generation sequencing technology makes it feasible to sequence human DNA relatively cheaply in a very short time
100,000 Genomes Project in England is involved in recruiting families with rare genetic conditions, and people with a wide range of cancers, and sequencing their genomes.
CRISPR-Cas9 – the most effective gene editing tool to date