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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Gigantic New Study Changes Everything We Knew About Human Genes

•, Jennifer Welsh
 The estimated price of the project, mostly funded by the National Institutes of Health, is $185 million. It's produced hundreds of terabytes of raw data.

The point of funding all this work? To make sense of the jumbled mess of chemicals which make us human — called the human genome. Our genome is the sequence of letters of a chemical called DNA that live in all of our cells. This DNA is what makes a human a human and not a fish — each species has a different string of DNA that makes them unique.

In 2001 a group of scientists published the DNA code of a person: The first fully sequenced — every letter of the string figured out — human genome. The problem? We had no idea what it meant. Researchers have spent the last decade trying to figure it out.

What's especially confusing about our DNA is that only a tiny fraction (somewhere around 1.5 percent) actually hold instructions for the proteins that make up our cells and perform their functions. So researchers set out to discover what the rest was doing.

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