Gotta Love That Genome

Cool news for your Monday – Researchers from Duke University have discovered a way to examine the entire genome and find the “unpackaged” centers that direct gene expression:

A new resource that identifies regions of the human genome that regulate gene expression may help scientists learn about and develop treatments for a number of human diseases, according to researchers at Duke’s Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (IGSP). … “Scientists have used similar methods to look at tiny portions of the genome in the past, but ours is the first technology to really allow researchers to look at the whole genome, so we can see all of the areas where gene regulation occurs,” said Terrence Furey, Ph.D., a researcher in the IGSP and co-senior investigator on this study. “Identifying these sites may help us understand the biological basis for gene regulation expression patterns in different cell types. We’ll also compare patterns within and across species, in response to external stimuli and in diseased tissues.”

via Science Daily

We’ve heard quite a bit about the human genome project over the last few years. This magnificent little development will aid future study of the intersection between environment and genetic expression, something we love talking about here at MDA.

And what makes it all the more fascinating: scientists know that random gene activity variation exists from individual to individual. These differences by far trump any population based variations. Our gene activity is as unique a fingerprint as our genetic code itself. These variations impact our susceptibility to certain diseases, our resistance to others, and our sensitivity to a whole host of environmental, nutrition- and fitness-based factors as well as our responsiveness to pharmaceutical, medical and lifestyle interventions.

And it’s those “unpackaged” regions that tell us not just that we’re genetically unique but that we’re more than just an assemblage (and passive subject) of genetic heritage.
We’re looking forward to bringing you more on the genetics-lifestyle front in the coming months. In the meantime, feel free to send us your questions and comments!

ckirkman Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Personal Genetics

Human Gene Count Tumbles Again

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