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Diffusion gradients in development


Caenorhabditis elegans: finding drug resistant mutants
Sydney Brenner Scientist
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Then I started to work on drugs. What I did is I got every drug capable of curing nematodes, you know, things they fed to cattle or pigs to cure them of this, or sprayed on plants and so on. And, of course, we found that some of these paralysed the nematodes. There's a very good one called Tetramysol, which paralysed nematodes. I then found I could get resistant mutants to them, and we then developed these techniques of selecting for rare mutants by taking a petri dish and putting a few thousand nematodes on one side of it and giving some bacteria on the other side. Of course, the nematodes can smell the bacteria and know they've got to get there, but of course it's only the ones that can move will get there very efficiently. Of course, you've got to give these others a little bit of bacteria so that they segregate the mutants. And with this you could always tell if there were mutants, because we could look down on the dish and see tracks of mutants and then go round and find this one. And so we could have very, very selective... this is almost like plating out bacteria. And so we found drug-resistant mutants of various sorts and they were put into the machinery. All of this then began to... to build up and began to attract other people. In fact, some people joined us from the transfer RNA experiments.

South African Sydney Brenner (1927-2019) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002. His joint discovery of messenger RNA, and, in more recent years, his development of gene cloning, sequencing and manipulation techniques along with his work for the Human Genome Project have led to his standing as a pioneer in the field of genetics and molecular biology.

Listeners: Lewis Wolpert

Lewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology of University College, London. His research interests are in the mechanisms involved in the development of the embryo. He was originally trained as a civil engineer in South Africa but changed to research in cell biology at King's College, London in 1955. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980 and awarded the CBE in 1990. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He has presented science on both radio and TV and for five years was Chairman of the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science.



Listen to Lewis Wolpert at Web of Stories



Tags: Tetramysol

Duration: 1 minute, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 29 September 2010