Can we hack our genes?

TV Documentary on Epigenetics with Thomas Jenuwein

November 05, 2023

Each cell contains our entire genome. Epigenetics controls which genes are activated to make the different cells in the body. The documentary asks if epigenetics can help us become more musical, fitter, or smarter? Can we become a better version of ourselves? How does epigenetics work? And can we even inherit traits through it that are not even intended in our own DNA?

These questions are answered by an Arte documentary from the series “42 - The Answer to Almost Everything”, in which our director Thomas Jenuwein participated as an expert and which was filmed at the MPI-IE in the spring of this year.

The 30-minute piece also features Edith Heard (EMBL) and Sara Hääg (Karolinska Institutet) and gives an easy-to-follow introduction to one of the most important scientific topics of our time.

Watch: Can we hack our genes?
Documentary series: “42 - The answer to almost everything” | ARTE/NDR 2023, Jochen Ruderer – available in German/French (English translation will follow) more

Episode description

Whether we are obese or thin, tall or short, have blue or brown eyes, whether we are musical or not eyes, whether we are musical or not – all this is determined by our genes. But if we can't influence our genes, perhaps we can influence the control mechanisms that turn certain genes on or off? Is epigenetics, as the science of these mechanisms is called, a way to break out of our "gene prison"? Will we soon be smarter, healthier and more musical by simply switching the right genes on or off? 

The decoding of human DNA has brought the certainty that our DNA controls us, determines us. It is almost like a "prison". What we look like, what our preferences are, who we like, whether we're like, whether we're musical or not - it's all DNA. And that cannot be changed.

But one branch of genetic research offers hope. Epigenetics studies how certain parts of our genome can be switched on or off. Can epigenetics help us become more musical, fitter, smarter, more beautiful? Can we become better versions of ourselves? How does epigenetics work? And can we even inherit traits that are not in our DNA? A study spanning three generations shows that it could work. What can epigenetics do? And how can it be useful? These questions are answered in this 42 episode.

(Source: arte)

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