Houston Community News >> Scientists Map Out First Asian Genome
10/12/2007-- Scientists have
successfully completed the first sequence map of the diploid genome of an Asian
The sequence was worked out by a group of scientists in Shenzhen and is now on display at the Ninth Annual China Hi-Tech Fair in the city.
The results, based on a Chinese, represent only the third human genome to have been sequenced in the world. The sequence map was created using advanced sequencing technology.
American scientists earlier this year created the first two genome sequence maps, of two Caucasian people.
The Chinese project was undertaken by the Shenzhen branch of the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), along with the National Engineering Research Center of Systematic Bioinformatics and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Exploring genetic codes has become a basic and essential part of the life sciences.
Wang Jun, the leader of the project and vice-director of BIG's Shenzhen branch, said that all people share the vast majority of genetic information that makes us human beings.
However, small differences, corresponding to just a fraction of the whole genome, determine traits such as skin color, height, susceptibility to diseases and responses to therapies and environments.
"We can never change our genes, but we can understand our genetic structure better by creating a fine map of our genome sequence. This is very helpful in preventing or controlling diseases, such as cancers," Wang said.
The project picked a normal Chinese man of Han nationality, and spent half a year analyzing his genome sequence.
Wang said that if all of the copies of the printed reports were stacked up, they would reach more than 300m high.
Now that the first diploid reference genome of an Asian has been completed, the next step of the project will be to sequence the genomes of more individuals to identify genetic variations in Asian populations and explore the essential mechanisms behind many diseases.
Wang said the researchers would soon select 99 Chinese people for the project. The number of research subjects will be expanded to 10,000 in the following couple of years.
"Everyone will have his genome sequenced in the near future for better healthcare," he said.
At the same time, the project is trying to lower the cost to popularize the technology, Yang Huanming, director of the Beijing Institute of Genomics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.
Yang said the first two genome sequences made in America cost about $3 billion. The project in Shenzhen, however, has lowered the cost to $5 million.
It is expected that the cost will drop to 200,000 yuan ($26,300) by 2010.
"Our final goal is to reduce the cost to less than 10,000 yuan, so that the technology will benefit more people," Yang said.
He said he hoped that in the near future genome sequencing for patients would become as common as a physical examination.
The Ninth China Hi-Tech Fair ends next Wednesday.
(Contributed by Chinanews)