Friday, December 21, 2007

Science Names it's Breakthrough of 2007: Human Genetic Variation

In this article, Elizabeth Pennisi writes "Already, the genomes of several individuals have been sequenced, and rapid improvements in sequencing technologies are making the sequencing of "me" a real possibility." Only 2 individual genomes have been "published", James Watson's and Craig Venter's, though Watson's is deposited in the database, Venter actually published his in a journal article. The era of personal genomics is definitely here.

Here's one of Science's predictions for next year:

Paleogenomics. Expect a very rough draft of the Neandertal genome by the end of 2008 and more comparisons between the genes of Neandertals and Homo sapiens that will continue to flesh out those fossil bones, filling out many features of this extinct human. Thanks to cheaper, faster technologies, there will be more genomes, from more extinct species, rolling out of the sequencing pipelines.
clipped from
Figure 1

The unveiling of the human genome almost 7 years ago cast the first faint light on our complete genetic makeup. Since then, each new genome sequenced and each new individual studied has illuminated our genomic landscape in ever more detail. In 2007, researchers came to appreciate the extent to which our genomes differ from person to person and the implications of this variation for deciphering the genetics of complex diseases and personal traits.

Less than a year ago, the big news was triangulating variation between us and our primate cousins to get a better handle on genetic changes along the evolutionary tree that led to humans. Now, we have moved from asking what in our DNA makes us human to striving to know what in my DNA makes me me.

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