October 25, 2010

Japanese Genome Sequenced

An anonymous Japanese male has become the seventh person to have his genetic code fully sequenced, according to research made public on Sunday.

The DNA sample from the Japanese man has been unraveled to show all three billion base pairs in the double-helix code for life.

He has become the seventh person to be fully sequenced since 2001.

The other six include James Watson, who co-discovered the structure of DNA, Craig Venter, a US biotech magnate, a male of Yoruba ethnicity of western Africa, two Korean males and a male of Han Chinese ethnicity.

The sequencing was headed by Tatsuhiko Tsunoda of the Center for Genomic Medicine in Yokohama, Japan. The study was published online in the journal Nature Genetics.

An international research group has launched the "Thousand Genomes Project" hoping to fully sequence the genomes of 1,000 anonymous individuals and put the data into public domain.

The project will also use the data gathered to study genetic variation that may hopefully explain inherited vulnerability to disease, produce drugs for individual needs, and help explain the odyssey of human migration.

Tsunoda told AFP in an email that he was cautious about making an early comparison between Japanese and other known genomes, as the seven projects used different methods to unravel the DNA and analyze it.

The researchers worked on new ways to spot patterns of multiple variations in the gene code, said Tsunoda of his team. "In the future, we would be able to find (a) huge number of variations in individual genomes that should be related to many diseases," he added.