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Human genetic code unveiled

12 February 2001
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 94

The two scientific teams who jointly announced the completion of the first draft of the entire human genetic code last June will publish their results this week. The international consortium's version will appear in Nature this Thursday, while that of US Company Celera Genomics will be published in rival journal Science on the following day.

Both groups report that the total number of human genes appears to be much smaller than previous estimates of between 50,000 and 100,000. The Science paper, by Celera president Dr Craig Venter and 282 co-authors, estimates that the human genome contains between 26,000 and 39,000 genes. The publicly-funded Human Genome Project's (HGP) article in Nature puts the figure at between 30,000 and 40,000.

The results have surprised those who assumed that humans would have many more genes than simple life-forms such as the nematode worm, which has around 18,000 genes. But the human genome is more versatile than that of a worm - many human genes are composed of 'subunits' that can be reshuffled to make a variety of different proteins. Professor John Sulston, former head of the UK's genome sequencing effort, also points out that humans have many more 'control genes' than worms, which in turn can influence other genes in a variety of ways.

The publications have reignited the disputes over data access between the two groups. Sulston accused Celera of underplaying their reliance on the HGP's data to complete their own map. But Venter dismissed the claims as 'sour grapes', saying his version was superior to the HGP's freely-available one.

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Science rivals open the book of life
The Daily Telegraph |  12 February 2001
15 May 2012 - by Dr Daniel Grimes 
Watching Stephen Sackur interview renowned scientist Sir John Sulston on HARDtalk, it comes as a surprise to discover that Sulston's current interests lie in human population control. This from the scientist whose pioneering work on the basic cell biology of the nematode worm led him to Stockholm in 2002, where he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize....
18 January 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
India has sequenced its first full human genome becoming the sixth country to do so, according to the Indian Government. The genome of a 52-year-old man from Jharkhand, eastern India, was reportedly sequenced by a top Indian science research body at a cost of $30,000. The breakthrough will help pharmaceutical companies develop drugs better suited to Indian physiology, according to India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)....
9 October 2006 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The X Prize Foundation is offering $10m to the first private team that is able to sequence 100 human genomes in just ten days. It would currently take months, at the cost of millions of dollars, to sequence an individual human genome. Francis Collins, director of the...
5 August 2005 - by BioNews 
Advances in genome sequencing technologies are bringing scientists one step closer to a time when it would cost as little as $1000 to read the entire genetic code of a person, two US teams say. A group based at Harvard Medical School has developed a method using beads and fluorescent...
29 April 2005 - by BioNews 
US firm Celera Genomics is to discontinue its subscription business, through which it charges scientists to access its genome data. The company caused controversy when it published its version of the entire human genetic code, in February 2001. In contrast to the publicly-funded human genome effort, Celera did not make...
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