Government restrictions on working with recombinant DNA, Walter Gilbert
Interviewee: Walter Gilbert. In the late 1970s, there was a moratorium on recombinant DNA work. Gilbert had to go to England's Porton Down facility to try and isolate human insulin. (DNAi Location: Manipulation > Production > Players > Walter Gilbert > Insulin and the moratorium)
When we turned to trying to make human insulin, then we had to use much more severe restrictions, I took a group of students and post-docs, went to England, we flew over with all of our materials in ways you couldn't do today actually 'cause the planes wouldn't let you carry these research materials, flew to England, rented a car and went to Porton with a complete, essentially a laboratory in a kit, and worked at Porton Down which was the British germ warfare establishment, where we could get access to what are called P-4 laboratories, laboratories in which you totally change your clothes, shower in, shower out, have gas masks available so that if the alarm goes off you can sterilize the entire laboratory. We worked in that laboratory for a month to try to make human insulin in bacteria and we were unsuccessful.
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The recombinant DNA moratorium meant Gilbert had to go to England's Porton Down facility to try and isolate human insulin. He only had one chance ...
Walter Gilbert talks about his group's early success with isolating the rat insulin gene and making recombinant rat insulin.
Walter Gilbert talks about the reasons for making insulin with recombinant DNA.
Synthesizing human insulin using recombinant DNA, 3D animation with no audio
David Goeddel talks about how another group was trying to make insulin.
Walter Gilbert talks about his feelings regarding the insulin project and science in general.
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Genentech, the first biotechnology company, established in 1976.
Walter Gilbert talks about close but no cigar.
Walter Gilbert's group tried to isolate the human insulin DNA sequence using the rat insulin DNA sequence.