'CHIMERA', SHORT FILM IN PRODUCTION
Directed and animated by Rita Ataide Novais and Sophie Colfer
This short film was commissioned by Labocine for the Image and Science Films exhibitions in 2018, as part of an exquisite corpse with the theme of Chimera, a genetically-hybrid organism. A film offering a singular look into the natural and artificial forms of evolution and what it means to modify an organism.
In this animation, a blend between documentary and narrative is formed to represent the process which lab-produced microRNA undergoes to silence gene expression. This is a microscopic view into the heart of a cell, within which lies a microcosmos of protein discs, RNA molecules, and other characters. Enzymes and molecules are effervescing inside the cell’s nucleus. All of a sudden, an intruder enters the nucleus and attracts enzymes that lead it to the cytoplasm. A microRNA emerges and is led through transformations by agent Dicer, who finally transports it to the final encounter with the messengerRNA and the ribosome, synthesizers of proteins. Here, the mutated microRNA performs its role, inhibiting the messengerRNA, who then crumbles. A new order is formed in the microcosmos as silence prevails.
Gene silencing is a naturally-occurring process in living organisms which allows for the differentiation of different types of cell. Every instant, genetic information is organically transcribed and silenced within living cells, as easily as we breathe. RNA (ribonucleic acid) molecules are the responsible agents for the translation of this information from the DNA to the ribosomes, complex molecular machines in which proteins are produced. RNA may have been the molecule used to store genetic blueprints in primitive organisms and may be present in outer space.
Recent scientific research in this field has focused around developing RNA therapeutic approaches since the discovery of the double stranded RNA-mediated interference by Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2006 for their work on the subject. These therapeutic approaches are currently undergoing further scientific research and clinical trials, with a focus on neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. The specificity in targeting, powerful effect, and lesser toxicity of RNA treatments offer promising possibilities.