Science and Technology : DNA FURTHER UNLOCKED

Kemetstry

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New DNA project shows us living beyond our genes

vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/05/13683358-new...2 hours ago
Sep 05, 2012 · Recommended: New DNA project shows us living beyond our genes; Recommended: West Nile cases jump 25 percent in a week, CDC says ;



University of Washington
Dr. John A. Stamatoyannopolous, associate professor of genome sciences, in his lab. Stamatoyannopolous worked on the giant ENCODE project that is re-defining human biology.
By Robert Bazell and Maggie Fox, NBC News
In what many scientists say is a revolution in biology, a giant new project is rewriting our understanding not only of what causes diseases or what makes our eyes a certain color, but what makes us human. And it turns out scientists have been looking in the wrong place for a very long time.
The bounty of new discoveries, released in a batch of 40 research papers on Wednesday, shows the stretches of DNA that we call genes are only a very small piece of what makes the body work. Much more important is the stuff in between the genes – stuff once dismissed as “junk DNA”. It turns out that junk DNA is what is in control, they report in the series of papers in the journals Nature, Science and elsewhere.

“This has opened up whole new galaxies. It’s like having a bigger telescope,” says Dr. Bruce Stillman, president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which played a major role in the work.

Scientists already knew in 2003, as they finished the giant Human Genome Project, that they did not have the understanding they had hoped for. It turned out that humans had just a measly 22,000 genes – fewer than some animals and far fewer even than a plant such as rice. How could something as complex and advanced as a human be boiled down into something so simple?
“We understood precious little about the processes that turns genes on and off. In short we had more questions than answers about how the human genome works,” said Dr. Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, which conducted the study.
The next phase of work, called ENCODE for Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, shows there’s nothing simple about it. As many as 40 million different switches are controlling these genes, turning them on and off in complex and subtle ways

“The genome is loaded with gene controlling switches. There are literally millions of these,” Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos of the University of Washington, who worked on the studies, told reporters in a telephone briefing.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, calls the findings “awesome and elegant.”
“This is the first truly comprehensive view, of how the three billion letter instruction book for human biology actually carries out its work, across many tissues and over the course of development,” he told NBC News in an interview.
Stanford University genomic expert Michael Snyder says it looks like gene mutations -- the changes in DNA sequences that we associate with causing diseases -- may only affect rare diseases. Common diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and allergy, are probably controlled elsewhere. “We think that most of the changes that affect disease don’t lie in the genes themselves, but the switches,” Snyder says.
So treating these common diseases may lie in trying to affect the switches. “The pharmaceutical industry has largely given up on genomics and the genome in favor of older approaches,” said Stamatoyannopoulos. These new findings may reinvigorate new drug research, he said. “Now we have a huge amount of genetic data about human disease that we can actually put to work to find the right kind of genes and proteins to target,” he said.
This new data will also help doctors diagnose disease in the first place, predict which treatments will work best for patients, and monitor their progress. It points the way to studies to determine the causes of hundreds of diseases including all kinds of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, heart disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. It also may lead to a better understanding of how our genetics determine such non-disease factors as height, weight and expected life span.
 

Zim

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Oct 12, 2009
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interesting but im tired of hearing about these new discoveries without seeing the benefits or them being put in practice to actually do something
 

Shikamaru

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interesting but im tired of hearing about these new discoveries without seeing the benefits or them being put in practice to actually do something
Reminds me of cancer ...

New discoveries. Nothing practical or implemented, but keep sending your checks in and marching for the cure ....

There's no money in curing disease.
 
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