Scientists complete human genome sequence

 

Scientists have completed the finished sequence of the human genome, or genetic blueprint of life, which holds the keys to transforming medicine and understanding disease.

Less than three years after finishing the working draft of the three billion letters that make up human DNA and two years earlier than expected, an international consortium of scientists said on Monday the set of instructions on how humans develop and function is done.

"We put out the draft sequence as a way of getting it out to scientists as quickly as we could. It gives them something to work with and get going, but the aim was always to generate a reference sequence for the human genome," Dr Jane Rogers, head of sequencing at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said.

"It's a bit like moving on from a first attempt demo music tape to a classic CD."

The Human Genome Project has already aided scientists in discovering a mutation that causes a deadly type of skin cancer and accelerated the search for genes involved in diabetes, leukaemia and childhood eczema.The completed sequence will help scientists to identify the 25,000-30,000 genes in humans, including those involved in complex diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Researchers from 120 countries have downloaded information which has been freely available on the Internet since the rough draft was announced in June 2000.