Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

samedi 26 avril 2003

On April 15, the Human Genome Project's announced that it had completed the task of sequencing the collection of genes that make up the human code. In fact, only 99.9 per cent of the 3 billion pairs of DNA have been sequenced.

How will we find the missing pieces? The Hindu reports that "the biotech community is increasingly turning to Pradeep Kumar Chatterjee, Head of Genomics and Bioinformatics at the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute (BBRI) of North Carolina Central University, U.S."

He has perfected a process called "deletion mapping technology" to map genes by checking both the sequence of every DNA pair as well as its position in the strand. It is slower but much more accurate than the rough-and-ready techniques adopted to get the bulk of the genome map right. But it is also a powerful tool for those who now want to use the genome map to analyze specific strands of DNA to attack individual diseases: what causes childhood leukaemia for example; or heart disease.
Researchers at a cardio-vascular centre in Houston, Texas, looking for the gene whose absence can lead to heart-valve defects in humans, told the North Carolina "News and Observer" last month: "Because of Dr. Chatterjee, we can do in a few months what would otherwise take two years."

So what's next?

What will the world's scientific community address next, with the human genome almost fully mapped? In an exclusive appraisal emailed to The Hindu, Dr. Chatterjee writes: "The focus is shifting to understanding the function of sequences in human and other genomes.... particularly, the function of non-coding sequences that are highly conserved between the genomes of mouse and man -- that is about 4.5 per cent of the human genome. Only 1.1 per cent of this comprises coding sequences for protein. The big question we have to answer is: What is the remaining 3.4 per cent doing?"

Source: Anand Parthasarathy, The Hindu, April 26, 2003

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