Wednesday, January 23, 2008

1000 Genomes Project

Today's post is going to be slightly nerdy, but I think it's important. A new web site just went up detailing the 1000 Genomes project. It's pretty much like it sounds, in that researchers now want to map the Human Genome over a sample of 1000 people (since doing one person didn't turn out to be as nearly as hard as they thought).

The obvious question: Why? The human genome has variations between each person, but those variations are a small percentage of the overall genome. Human DNA has a lot of redundant information, and finding a specific gene is the proverbial needle in a haystack. By identifying which genes are always the same or most likely to be different between individuals, you can narrow down the search. This is especially helpful for researchers looking for specific genes that are contributing factors in diseases. Knowing where to look for genetic variation can turn that hunt into something manageable. Past research has been forced to look for these genes by clever guesses and brute force, so this will help shorten the time to find variant genes dramatically, and speed up the process of finding cures!

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