Genetic researchers in China, Britain and the United States are teaming up to unravel the full genetic code of at least 1,000 people around the world – an unprecedented scientific project that could cost tens of millions of dollars and eventually reveal the roots of hundreds of diseases. The 1000 Genomes Project will examine the human genome at a level of detail that no one has done before,” Richard Durbin of Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, who is the project consortium’s co chair, said in today’s announcement. “Such a project would have been unthinkable two years ago. Today, thanks to amazing strides in sequencing technology, bioinformatics and population genomics, it is now within our grasp.
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In what is being hailed as a landmark in understanding the human genome, scientists from over 35 research centers around the world released a collaborative study Wednesday afternoon showing that our genetic makeup is much more complicated than previously thought. The collaboration of researchers, known as the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements — or ENCODE — consortium, looked at roughly 1 percent of the entire human genome, concluding that the 95 percent of the genome previously believed to be superfluous actually plays a major role in regulating how DNA expresses itself.
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Applying a new genomic technique to a large group of patients, researchers in Britain have detected DNA variations that underlie seven common diseases, discovering unexpected links between them. The variations pinpoint biological pathways underlying each of the diseases, and researchers hope that as the pathways are analyzed, new drugs and treatments will emerge. The seven common diseases are bipolar disorder, coronary artery disease, Crohn’s disease, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Unveiling the complex genetics of common diseases was the promised payoff of the $3 billion human genome project, completed in 2003, but progress was slow until the recent development of devices that in a single operation can read the DNA sequence at up to 500,000 points across an individual’s genome. With the devices, called chips, researchers can compare large numbers of patients with healthy individuals, looking for points of differences in their genomes that may be associated with disease.
Site – http://www.nytimes.com
The foundation that inspired a private sector race to space announced a new $10 million prize on Wednesday — this time to inspire a race to sequence the human genetic map faster and cheaper. Although scientists have mapped one person’s genome — by both public and private efforts — it was time-consuming and expensive. The X-Prize Foundation wants to inspire someone to map 100 different human genomes in just 10 days. And just to spice things up, it is offering another $1 million if the team can decode the genomes of 100 more people, including some wealthy donors and celebrities such as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Google co-founder Larry Page.
Site – http://www.cnn.com
Researchers believe they have found a second code in DNA in addition to the genetic code. The second code, superimposed on the first, sets the placement of the nucleosomes, miniature protein spools around which the DNA is looped.
Site – http://www.nytimes.com
A plan for a global database of all human gene mutations has been announced in Australia. The Human Variome Project could allow doctors to rapidly diagnose patients with rare genetic conditions and could ultimately lead to new treatments for diseases. About 100,000 human gene mutations have been discovered, but this total represents only about 5% of the predicted total number of mutations.
Site – http://www.newscientist.com