Research from teams of scientists around the world was published yesterday – studies that suggest the important health impact of some four million or more “gene switches” contained in portions of DNA previously considered “junk.”
According to an introduction from the journal Nature, “collectively, the papers describe 1,640 data sets generated across 147 different cell types. Among the many important results there is one that stands out above them all: more than 80% of the human genome’s components have now been assigned at least one biochemical function.”
Elise Feingold, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, likened this collective data to “Google Maps for the human genome.” These findings have major implications for research on human diseases and in many other fields of biology.
From a librarian’s perspective, perhaps the best news is the liberal access that Nature is providing to the articles, making the research freely available through their new ENCODE Explorer web site, and enhancing the data and findings with interactive features.