The Gene Code

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Sun­day, 8.30pm, SBS One In 2001 Bill Clin­ton an­nounced sci­en­tists had mapped our genome, the ge­netic code that makes us hu­man. It sig­nalled the start of a trans­for­ma­tion of bi­ol­ogy and ge­net­ics, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to iden­tify genes that are not work­ing as they should and to start work­ing out why. But the brave world of medicine Clin­ton pre­dicted has not quite worked out as op­ti­misti­cally as an­tic­i­pated. Sure, the tech­nol­ogy to map some of an in­di­vid­ual’s DNA, all three bil­lion let­ters of it, is now com­mon­place, giv­ing ev­ery­body, well ev­ery­body sci­en­tif­i­cally lit­er­ate, the abil­ity to iden­tify when a sin­gle gene that is out of whack causes a dis­ease. How­ever, read­ing and un­der­stand­ing the code are not the same thing. For years sci­en­tists as­sumed only the 2 per cent to 3 per cent of DNA that makes the pro­teins make us what we are and that the rest is just junk. Not so. Now the chal­lenge is to work out the mul­ti­ple vari­ants that cause most dis­eases and the an­swer ap­pears to be in the 98 per cent of the genome that isn’t genes. So now all the genomes are be­ing se­quenced and it seems the non-cod­ing DNA, the ‘‘ dark mat­ter’’ of the genome, is what drives dis­ease. In essence, the break­through a decade back was just a start — what makes our bod­ies tick is far more com­plex than any­body thought and we now know more about how ig­no­rant we are. the guards. (And gosh, what a sur­prise, the ter­ror­ists are af­ter an im­pen­e­tra­ble en­cryp­tion unit!) Sec­tion 20 has satel­lite sur­veil­lance and an in­tel­li­gence sys­tem that would im­press Google, is never on the fritz and al­ways ac­cu­rate. But in the end it comes down to them hit­ting harder and shoot­ing straighter than the vil­lains. The team blazes away in a chase through a shan­ty­town with­out hit­ting passers-by or at­tract­ing the at­ten­tion of the lo­cal cop­pers. (A later city street shoot-out is less suc­cess­ful.)The plot is less thin than translu­cent with comic book vil­lains, and the vi­o­lence is as bru­tal as it is im­pos­si­ble. But the gra­tu­itous nu­dity will ap­peal to male ado­les­cents of all ages. Clooney, ver­sion. In the end a busi­ness­man who in­her­ited his money loses. Well, this is post-global fi­nan­cial cri­sis. But the best bit is at the end where be­ing a lov­able rogue isn’t enough. Per­haps not worth stay­ing up for, but one for the recorder.

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