baudrunner's space: Craig Venter's Genome
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Craig Venter's Genome

The hottest news in science today is an announcement by J. Craig Venter, founder of Celera Genomics, itself in the news today for announcing its acquisition of Berkely HeartLab, Inc. Of course, Celera is the company which was the first group to map the entire human genome while in competition with a U.S. government funded program to do the same. Venter announced after completing the project that the largest portion of the map was derived from sequencing parts of his own DNA, along with DNA material from four other individuals. Today he announced that he and his colleagues at J. Craig Venter Institute have completed the work to map a single individual's entire genome and that the resulting data would be made available to the public via the World Wide Web. The genome is his.

Their research article is titled The Diploid Genome Sequence of an Individual Human and is published on the PLoS Biology web site, a peer-reviewed open-access journal published by the Public Library of Science. The actual map of the genome can be viewed as an interactive poster but the reader is forewarned that a very fast computer and connection are required to look through the data. The poster is also available for download as an 88 MegaByte Adobe Reader file (.PDF).

If one has read my previous posts about genetics and genetic engineering for treatment therapies then one can readily understand that the following quote from the article can be considered to be very timely:

"Clearly, to enable the forthcoming field of individualized genomic medicine, it is important to represent and understand the entire diploid genetic component of humans, including all forms of genetic variation in nucleotide sequences, as well as epigenetic effects."
The estimated cost of the effort to map Craig Venter's genome is something over $60 million. It is projected that within the near future genome mapping will cost about $100 thousand per individual and it is foreseen that when the practice becomes fairly routine that the cost will be reduced drastically to about $1,000 per individual.

The article can be an interesting read even to the layman. There are some intriguing links, like that to the Ensembl website, which "maintains automatic annotation on selected eukaryotic genomes". For example, click on the species Chimpanzee in the Popular Genomes sidebar and "click on chromosome for a closer view" etc. Other links to companies under the Materials and Methods section of the paper provide information on the products and technologies used in the mapping project. All in all, even a superficial perusal of the paper can provide a rudimentary yet informative background in genomics.

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