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President Celera: "The concept that one gene is responsible for one disease, or for the production of one protein, has collapsed"

The breakthrough in genome research may actually delay the fight against diseases"

The rival versions of the human genome, or "book of life", lead to the conclusion that there is a smaller number of human genes than scientists initially estimated. This fact could actually be a hard blow for researchers who strive to find new drugs in an attempt to fight hereditary diseases.
The versions whose decoding process was completed by the Public Genome Project and the Commercial Decoding Project numbered about 30,000 human genes. This is twice the number of genes in a fly or a worm, but low compared to previous estimates by scientists, who were confident of mapping about 100,000 genes through decoding. Human and even more so. This means that the human body uses most genes more than once to produce different proteins, which adds another level to the complexity of the research.

Craig Venter, the president of the American biotechnology company Celera, which led the project to decipher the commercial genomic sequence, says that "the concept that one gene equals one disease or that one gene is responsible for the production of one central protein, has gone out the window." He added that the discovery would make patents on single genes less useful.

But there are also other voices in the biotechnological community. William Hazeltine, chairman of Human Genome Sciences, an American biotech company that uses various methods to locate genes, said last night that neither Celera nor the Public Decipherment Project had good enough genomic data to draw conclusions about the number of genes.

Hazeltine still believes that the entire human genome includes more than 100,000 human genes. However, Tim Hubbard from the Sanger Center near Cambridge, who is considered a leading figure in the sequencing project, claims that it is not possible to prove the figure that Hazeltine punched.

The public project, conducted by an academic consortium funded by the American government and the British charity Wellcome, published its findings in the British magazine Nature, while Celera, the biotechnology company that managed the decoding of the private sequence, published its findings in the rival American magazine Science.

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