Yes, it’s *that* J. Craig Venter, local bazillionaire who seems to possess an uncontrollable urge to patent and sell DNA sequences. Now we can find out if this urge is indeed “in his genes”. The fascinating thing in this somewhat breaking DNA news is that it’s the first decoding of an entire human, the scientist has made himself the experiment, and it’s all way more complicated in those sequences than anyone thought. Snip:
Scientists have for the first time decoded the complete DNA sequence of a single human being, a mammoth feat that shatters old beliefs about the “book of life” and marks a historic step toward the era when medical care can be tailored to an individual’s genes.
With the boggling array of genetic quirks, burps and hiccups found in the full DNA sequence of one healthy middle-aged man, the human genome has now shrugged off its reputation for being perhaps the world’s most boring and predictable molecule.
Coiled inside the body’s cells, DNA is the chemical chain that encodes the instructions to build and operate a human in two sets of 23 chromosomes – one set passed down from each parent.
The first two maps of the human genome, published by an international government-funded consortium and a private company in 2001, were based on a patchwork of DNA from several donors. Both versions were also half maps, decoding only one set of the 23 chromosomes on the assumption the two sets would hardly differ.
Those maps suggested that humans were 99.9 per cent genetically identical, with only one one-thousandth of DNA information accounting for all the vibrant variety of humanity.
Now researchers from Canada, the United States and Spain have decoded all 46 of the chromosomes belonging to J. Craig Venter, the 60-year-old upstart American biologist whose company, Celera Genomics, compiled the private version of the human genome seven years ago. And the results indicate that those first celebrated DNA maps seriously underestimated the genetic diversity of humans – by a factor of at least five.
The new work suggests that the genetic code in the chromosomes we carry can vary widely, not only between any two strangers waiting at a bus stop, but between brothers and sisters.
“The biggest single surprise is how much we missed the boat with the human genome seven years ago, and how different we really are,” Dr. Venter said in an interview. “The overwhelming message back then was that we are all like identical clones of each other. … It’s comforting to know we are more unique than that.”