Scientists have published the most detailed analysis of DNA since the completion of the human genome project in 2003.
The so called Encode programme has revealed that parts of DNA which were once dismissed as “junk” turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave.
Dr. Ewan Birney, participating scientist in the Encode Project explained the significance of the work:
“Ten years ago there was the human genome, that’s a bit like getting a huge book in Russian. It’s very big. It looks very important, but it’s in Russian and I don’t know any Russian. So, this is our first systematic translation of this book and what was surprising is that is completely alive with stuff. It’s really quite remarkable. You can’t move for things going on.”
The work by over 400 scientists from five different countries also includes the realisation that just 20 gene switches or changes may underline 17 seemingly unrelated cancers. This could help pharmaceutical companies in their drug research.