September 6, 2012 7:45
Scientists from several countries have published the most detailed analysis of the functions of the human genetic code to date.
They were able to establish the functions of up to 80% of the human genome.
Until now it was thought that most of the DNA helix has no function, and the attention of researchers has focused on the 2% of the genome that are responsible for the production of proteins.
The project "Encyclopedia of DNA elements» (Encode) since 2003 more than 400 scientists from 32 laboratories in the UK, USA, Spain, Singapore and Japan.
The results of the study made public in 30 interconnected Press publications on the website logs Nature, Genome Biology and Genome Research.
Genes are small sections of DNA that contain instructions for the cells of the body on which the protein chemicals they need to synthesize.
However, most of the DNA is still considered "junk" — its purpose and poorly understood, scientists have assumed that no special features, these DNA segments do not carry.
The project Encode analyzed all three billion pairs of genes that make up the double helix of DNA.
"The term 'junk DNA' time to throw in the trash — says project leader, Dr. Yuan Birnie from the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge. — From this study, it is clear that the biologically active portion of a much larger genomes than previously thought. "
For example, scientists have identified four million of so-called "switch" genes — are sections of DNA that enables or disables the cells in certain genes. "Switches" are often located far away from the gene, which they control.
"This will help our understanding of human biology. Many of our dedicated switches are connected to changes in the risk of conditions as heart disease, diabetes, mental disorders. Opens up a whole new world that scientists can explore, and it is hoped that eventually it will lead to the development of new treatments, "- says Byrne.
Scientists admit that, before the results that will feel the patients are still far away. However, as another member of the team Encode, Dr. Ian Dunham, eventually all good practice of medicine will be based on the genome map.
«Encode gives us a valuable set of research areas in order to identify the key mechanisms underlying the condition of people. On this basis it is possible to create a fundamentally new drugs or to find a new use of existing treatments, "- says Dunham.
Professor Mike Stratton, who heads the fund Sanger Institute Wellcome Trust, called the results Encode «cornerstone of human biology for many years."
"Encode project to change the way the work of many researchers, and give to those who seek to explore the origins of disease, a much better understanding of how the genetic variations impair the quality of our genome," — he said.