When former U.S. president Bill Clinton took to a White House lectern 20 years ago to let the world now that the human genome sequence had been completed, he promoted the news as “the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind.”
That advancement was placed at the same level as the moon landing.
Scientists hoped that having access to the sequence would shape our understanding of human disease in less than 20 years, resulting in better treatment, detection and prevention.
Unfortunately, the potential of the newfound genetic knowledge has never been fulfilled. Instead, new questions were posed.
The gaps between human genomes and the switches that are responsible for the direct genetic activity are emerging as powerful determinants of how we get ill – potentially deciding up to ninety per cent of what makes humans different from one another.
Understanding those particularities will help scientists delve deeper into the species’ genetic past.
Cracking the human genome required 13 years, tons of money, and hundreds of researchers reviewing over 3 billion base pairs in the human DNA.
After mapping, the genetic data helped multiple projects like the Genome-Wide Association Studies and Cancer Dependency Map have a broader understanding of the diseases that plague the human race.
The outcome was excellent. It turned out that the human genome features approximately the same number of genes as a mouse or a fruit fly (approximately twenty-one thousand), three times less than an onion. Few individuals would argue that humans have the complexity of a third of an onion.
Future research will likely return more information on that subject, so you should stay tuned for more news!