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Human Genome Project ahead of schedule

22 March 1999
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 0

A first working draft of the human genome could be ready by next spring, 18 months ahead of schedule. This is the second time in six months that leaders of the Human Genome Project have brought the deadline forward. The project's leaders attributed the earlier than expected completion date to the efficiency and accuracy of sequencing achieved in the last year of the pilot phase. However, some researchers also believe that the early date reflects the acceleration of the race between public and commercial sectors to sequence the genome.

The Washington-based National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and the British collaborator, the Wellcome Trust, also announced the completion of the pilot phase and the launch of the full scale sequencing effort. To this end, they awarded $81.6 million to three academic sequencing centres in the US, and the Wellcome Trust announced its intention to increase funding to the Sanger Centre in Cambridge (UK) by $77 million over the next year. John Sulston, director of the Sanger Centre said that the Wellcome Trust's emphasis on a speedy completion to the project is largely based on a desire to meet the needs of medical research. However, Sulston also acknowledged that a parallel private sector initiative had contributed to 'raising the temperature' in the sequencing race.

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