ENCODE - New insight into Human DNA

The first wave of papers on a massive research project delving deeper into Human DNA were released on September 5th. The project, started in 2003 and entitled ENCODE, involved 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the globe.

When the Human Genome Project completed its mapping in 2001, scientists thought that only 2% of Human DNA was used, the rest thought to be evolutionary leftovers. Based on the preliminary reports just released, it appears that 80% or more is active. Most of what had been previously discovered were the genes directly responsible for encoding proteins. The new mappings reveal a much larger set of gene 'switches' used to control the protein encoding genes.

The revelation of gene switches allows for entirely new approaches in research around cancer, genetic disorders and a host of other areas.

An explorer for the papers published is at ENCODE on the Nature site.

An iPad app is also available Nature ENCODE

( via The New York Times )

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