The Human Genome - Still more to learn...

There is a nice feature in Wired magazine about “The Genome Revolution”, it is ten years since all the genes in a human were first mapped.  The article is called “10 years on ‘the genome revolution is only just beginning‘”.  There are a few quotes in the article that particularly struck me

The Human Genome Project — the Collins-led governmental side of the genome-sequencing race, with Venter leading the private side — commenced only when the cost of reading DNA finally approached $1 per unit, or $3 billion for a whole genome. A comparable genome sequence now costs less than $10,000. What took years to complete can be done in a day.

It is true the cost and speed of sequencing is falling all the time and the further it falls the more it will be used.  This is a good thing and can only help us learn more about the science of the human body.  So just what have we learned from the human genome sequence?

the genomic age has produced significant medical advances. Analyses of gene disturbances in cancer tissues have produced several promising drugs. Testing for breast cancer mutations is now common. Individual response to about a dozen drugs can be predicted. And even if the big picture isn’t yet clear, researchers have thousands of new gene targets, each a providing a foothold on the path to understanding.

Obviously we would like to have effective drugs for all types of cancer and we clearly have a long way to go. It is true that testing for mutations in breast cancer is now mainstream but we don’t have similar tests for other types of cancer.  Working out who will (and won’t) respond to drugs is also a huge area of research and one that could have a huge impact on how treat cancer (and other diseases) in the future.
If you want to read more about the history of the genome sequencing project and the future for new developments then check out the Nature special edition (which is available online for free)  called “The human genome at ten

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