Latest BRC film asks: ‘Should you donate your DNA to help cure diseases?’

The UCLH BRC has released its latest film about biomedical research, looking at how scientists are using DNA to find the causes of currently untreatable diseases and develop new drug treatments for them.

The film was produced in partnership with science presenter and producer Greg Foot, who narrated, and Pierangelo Pirak.

The 6-minute film which is hosted online by Ted-Ed, the youth and education initiative of TED Talks, opens up topical discussion about the use of genomic data donated by patients to improve healthcare.

The film’s scientific advisers were BRC supported Professor Aroon Hingorani, Chair of Genetic Epidemiology at UCL, and Professor Reecha Sofat, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at UCL and UCLH consultant.

When scientists don't know the cause of a medical condition, developing a drug treatment can take lots of time and money and involves significant trial and error – which is why we only have drugs for a small proportion of diseases.

Researchers think analysis of large sets of DNA donated by consenting members of the public may change this – with genomic information enabling researchers to identify faulty proteins which underlie disease and suggesting new ‘therapeutic targets’ for drugs. The video explains how this works.

The film comes with worksheets developed by science education experts designed to be used in the classroom to cover biology subjects relevant to the curriculum.

The film explores and explains many areas relevant to the A level and GCSES syllabuses including:

  • cell biology
  • inheritance, variation and evolution
  • DNA and the genome and variation
  • biological molecules
  • properties of proteins,
  • DNA and protein synthesis.

Watch the video on the Ted-Ed platform.

View and download the worksheets on the BRC website.

Watch the BRC’s previous film hosted on Ted-Ed which explains CAR T-cell therapy – a revolutionary approach to the treatment of cancer in development at UCL and UCLH.