HUMAN GENOME: Celera Will Have DNA Map By June
Maryland-based Celera Genomics yesterday announced it has decoded 99% of the human genetic code and could complete assembly of a DNA map as early as June (Knox, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/7). Using a "phalanx of robots," the company has managed to identify nearly all of the 100,000 existing genes, but that data "is scattered into 17 million tiny snippets that must be assembled like pieces of a vast jigsaw puzzle." According to Celera President J. Craig Venter, building the DNA map from acquired data "is the most critical phase of the entire process" (Birch/Salganik, Baltimore Sun, 4/7). If successful, the company's efforts would mark a "milestone in the history of science and medicine," providing the knowledge necessary to develop "a new generation of medical treatments that will attack disease at the level of genes and cells," the New York Times reports (Wade, 4/7). First Security Van Kasper analyst Alan Auerbach explained, "It's a very important breakthrough. In sequencing the entire genome, they are really expanding knowledge in the field of genomic research." Vandana Bapna, an Offutt Securites analyst in Baltimore, agreed, noting, "This is kind of a beginning of a new era. People have been waiting and expecting --it's like the landing on the moon" (Stefanova, Washinton Times, 4/7). The decoded genome belongs to a man, so it has both X and Y chromosomes. After the mapping is complete, Venter said he plans to hold a conference for outside experts to "identify where the genes lie on the DNA and what they do" (New York Times, 4/7). The company eventually will make its database available to subscribers, who will pay from, $5,000 to $15 million a year for access. Toward the end of the year, non-subscribers will have access free of cost (Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.