HUMAN GENOME: Energy Dept. Decodes Three Chromosomes
In the race to unravel the human genetic code, the Department of Energy announced yesterday that its researchers have completed a rough draft of three human chromosomes, the New York Times reports. Part of the public consortium to decode the human genome, the DOE's Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Joint Genome Institute said that it has completed the draft sequence for chromosomes 5, 16 and 19, three of the 24 human chromosomes (Wade, 4/14). The three chromosomes contain between 10,000 and 15,000 genes and comprise about 11% of a human's genetic makeup. Researchers indicated that some of those genes have been linked to illnesses including kidney disease, prostate and colorectal cancer, leukemia, high blood pressure and diabetes. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said, "This may offer us possible solutions to some of the most vexing and widespread disease in the archive of human suffering" (Reuters/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/14). Yesterday's announcement was intended to highlight the role of the Energy Department in the public project, which was originally suggested by a department official 15 years ago. Recently, the NIH has taken the lead in the effort (Jacobs, Los Angeles Times, 4/14). The Human Genome Project plans to have a rough draft of the entire genome by June, with a complete gene map expected by 2003. However, rival Celera Corp. announced last week plans to have the complete human genome ready in six weeks (New York Times, 4/14).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.