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Human DNA

Human DNA More Variable Than Thought

People are less alike than scientists had thought when it comes to the billions of building blocks that make up each individual's DNA, according to a new analysis. "Instead of 99.9 percent identical, maybe we're only 99 percent (alike),'' said J. Craig Venter, an author of the study—and the person whose DNA was analyzed for it.


Several previous studies have argued for lowering the 99.9 percent estimate. Venter says this new analysis "proves the point.'' The new work, in the latest issue of PLoS Biology, marks the first time a scientific journal has presented the entire DNA makeup, or human genome, of an individual. However, James D. Watson—co-discoverer of DNA's molecular structure—received his own personal DNA map from scientists a few months ago. And the genomes for both him and Venter are already posted on scientific Web sites.


Venter is president of the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., which does genetics research. He and scientists at his institute and elsewhere collaborated on the work that produced his genetic map. The order of building blocks along a strand of DNA encodes genetic information, somewhat like the way a sequence of letters creates a sentence. Particular sequences form genes. Landmark studies published in 2001 indicated that the DNA of any two people is about 99.9 percent alike. The new paper suggests estimates of 99.5 percent to just 99 percent, Venter said.


Although the new paper analyzes just Venter's genetic material, it can make estimates about how individuals differ in their DNA. Everybody inherits two sets of DNA, one from each parent. Venter's paper compared the DNA he inherited from his mother with the DNA from his father. 

Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7) 

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