Thursday, September 06, 2012

The Guardian on ENCODE project

From Breakthrough study overturns theory of 'junk DNA' in genome :
"For years, the vast stretches of DNA between our 20,000 or so protein-coding genes – more than 98% of the genetic sequence inside each of our cells – was written off as "junk" DNA. Already falling out of favour in recent years, this concept will now, with Encode's work, be consigned to the history books.
Encode is the largest single update to the data from the human genomesince its final draft was published in 2003 and the first systematic attempt to work out what the DNA outside protein-coding genes does. The researchers found that it is far from useless: within these regions they have identified more than 10,000 new "genes" that code for components that control how the more familiar protein-coding genes work.

This means that the individual differences in people's diseases can be more effectively targeted for treatment. "Diseases have been defined by the medical profession observing symptoms," says Dr Tim Hubbard of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge. "[But] we know, for example, that breast cancer is not one disease but there's multiple types of breast cancer with all sorts of different mechanistic processes going wrong.
"A given drug only works in about a third of the people you give it to, but you don't know which third. A lot of that is related to genomics, so if you knew the relationship between a person's genome and which drugs work for them and which ones they shouldn't take because it gives them side effects, that would improve medicine.""

No comments: