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October 23, 1987


JAMA. 1987;258(16):2283-2285. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400160137042

Currently, two important developments challenge the physician's skills, but in opposite ways: recombinant DNA technology and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The former is similar to previous waves of scientific discovery within this century. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, on the other hand, is something few contemporary scientists have experienced—an infectious epidemic.

Recombinant DNA technology is medicine's current scientific revolution. It will change medicine to the same magnitude that semiconductors are changing electronics. When looking through a microscope at a cell, physicians must now imagine the DNA wound like a thread on tens of thousands of bobbins. These bobbins are clustered like seeds in a large pod constituting the chromosome. How does the thread break on chromosome 9 and then cross over to a precise site on chromosome 22 so that the abelson oncogene is inserted into the bcr region to create the specific DNA lesion of chronic myelogenous leukemia?1 Does the