LONDON: The Beijing Genomics Institute has announced that its scientists have sequenced the diploid genome of a Han Chinese individual, the first case of genome sequencing in Asia.
The announcement attains significance as Han Chinese represent 92% of China’s population, and are the largest ethnic group in the world.
“Everyone will get their own genome sequenced in the near future, for better health care. We are very excited because this accomplishment got us closer to that goal,” Nature magazine quoted a scientist from the Beijing Genomics Institute as saying.
The mapping of the human genome in 2000 opened the door to the detailed analysis of genes, but experts are trying to find out how they interact with lifestyle and environment to determine why some people become sick and others do not.
The Chinese map, drawn up by about 120 scientists in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, was a “milestone” and a first for Asians, the Beijing News said.
“It is important for the scientific DNA research for Chinese and even Asians to find out the potential illness in genes and epidemic prediction,” the newspaper quoted an expert as saying.
The researchers have yet not released the technical details of their research.
The group is planning to sequence more individuals in the Asian population so that they can begin to correlate genetic variation with underlying disease.
The next task for the scientists was to map the genome for pandas, only found in China and at risk of extinction, and they expected success before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Normally, humans share most of their genome with one another. However, slight genetic differences may correspond to variation in their susceptibility to diseases and responses to therapeutics. The researchers believe that people in the same ethnic groups can share genetic characteristics that may be useful for targeting future drug treatments.
“We certainly know there is a lot of genetic variation, and it is not distributed uniformly around the world,” says Kenneth Kidd, a population geneticist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, who is one of the founders of the Human Genome Diversity Project.
View more random threads: