How can cells that contain the same DNA end up so different from each other? That is not only a difficult question for science to answer, but also a challenging one to represent visually.
It is also the question I posed at the start of my latest biomedical animation, called Tagging DNA, which visualises the molecular mechanisms behind epigenetics.
It specifically looks at a process called methylation, where methyl groups are added to DNA, thus changing which genes are switched on and which are switched off. This is one of the processes that enables the same static DNA to produce different types of cells throughout our bodies.
It’s no trivial task making such complex science accessible and engaging. When creating a biomedical animation, I use the tools of Hollywood, such as colour, movement and narrative, to capture the interest and attention of an audience not necessarily interested or engaged in science. Yet, while the overall aesthetic needs to be appealing and awe-inspiring, this should not be at the expense of scientific accuracy.
There is always a balance between accuracy and artistry, and this remains a challenge for every biomedical animation. I encountered another aspect of this challenge when creating Tagging DNA when I needed to explain and show concepts that are not yet fully understood, even among scientists.
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