Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Human Genome : We're almost finished, part III!

Scientists released today in Nature their analysis of the most recent 'finished' version of the Human genome. For those who didn't followed this closely, in June 2000 a 'working draft' of the genome was released. For the general public, the sequencing was finished, but it's not quite the case. 150 000 gaps remained to be closed in this draft. The most recent one still have 341 gaps... which is a major improvement. Scientists judge that these holes in the sequence cannot be closed by the bruteforce approach used to do the rest of the genome; it'll require more research and technology development.

Some interesting facts :

- It seems that we have fewer genes than expected. 20,000-25,000, down from a ~35,000 estimation 4 years ago, and a 100,000 estimation before the release of the first draft. Why we should have have more genes than a rodent is obscure to me; the same functions are there, size doesn't matter. Superiority complex, I guess.

- 1000 new genes arose since our divergence with rodents 75 millions years ago, and we lost at least 33 genes, which are still in our genome but are non-functional (pseudogenes).

2800 researchers worldwide were implicated in the sequencing. A great example of International collaboration... The human genome sequence achievement was one of the most important factor leading to the hype surrounding bioinformatics. Such a massive amount of data can't be analyzed by other means! New insights will surface from this knowledge...

As a side note, I'm glad we avoided the whole 'gene patenting' craze...

Read the whole story.

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