Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Working Draft of the Human Genome Completed

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Working Draft of the Human Genome Completed

Article excerpt

Both the public Human Genome Project and biotechnology company Celera Genomics have put together their first compilations of the human genome DNA nucleotide sequences. After two years of often heated competition, the leaders of the public and private sector efforts met in June in Washington to praise each other's achievements and announce the historic milestone. James Watson, Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, commented wryly: "From the public viewpoint, everyone has gained".

The Human Genome Project working draft covers 97% of the human genome, and a final, completed version is now expected within the next two years, with work centering on filling the gaps in the draft sequence and raising overall accuracy to 99.99%. Scientists at 16 institutions in France, Germany, Japan, the People's Republic of China, the United Kingdom and the United States generated around 82% of the sequencing data in the public project which made its results available without delay via the Internet.

The coordinated work of unlocking the secrets of DNA, the double-stranded molecule packaged into 23 chromosomes which may code for up to 150 000 genes, began in 1990. The goal of the human genome research has been to obtain a single reference sequence of the three billion chemical bases that make up human DNA. But although the working draft is a major milestone, therapeutic applications of the technology are only in their infancy.

The aim now is to use the genetic blue-print to match genes with their functions and to detect genetic variations. Already, dozens of disease genes have been pinpointed by researchers accessing the public working draft. …

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