Human genetic differences – an order of magnitude greater

Listening to NPR on the way home, I heard a very interesting news bit on the latest in human genetic make-up studies.  For the longest time, scientists have said that humans are 99.9% identical genetically.  Now it seems that we differ at least 10 times more than previously believed.

Scientists have shown that our genetic code varies between individuals far more than was previously thought.

A US-led team made a detailed analysis of the DNA found in 270 people and identified vast stretches in their codes to be duplicated or even missing.

A great many of these variations are in areas of the genome that would not damage our health, Stephen Scherer and colleagues told the journal Nature.

. . .

…researchers have developed the molecular “tools” to focus on medium-scale variations of the code – at the scale of thousands of DNA letters.

It would seem the assumption that the DNA of any two humans is 99.9% similar in content and identity no longer holds

The researchers were astonished to locate 1,447 CNVs in nearly 2,900 genes, the starting “templates” written in the code that are used by cells to make the proteins which drive our bodies.

This is a huge, hitherto unrecognised, level of variation between one individual and the next.

Very interesting.  And this will presumably lead us to greater understanding of how genetics determine who we are physically.  Since I was just reading an article on Gene Therapy in the latest MIT Technology Review at work tonight (no network nights kinda suck), the news story was even more interesting.  Perhaps this will help researchers improve the so-far near 0 success rate of gene therapy treatments, too.

[tags]Human genetic differences greater than previously though, We are 10 times more different than we knew[/tags]