BEIJING, Oct. 12 -- Scientists have successfully
completed the first sequence map of the diploid genome of an Asian individual.
The sequence was worked out by a group of scientists in Shenzhen and is now on display at the Ninth Annual China Hi-Tech Fair in the city.
An interpreter expains the meaning of the first Chinese diploid genome map on the 9th China High-Tech Fair in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, on Oct. 11, 2007. The first Chinese diploid genome map was completed by Chinese scentists recently and exhibited on the 9th China High-Tech Fair 2007 (CHTF) on Thursday.(Xinhua Photo)
The results, based on a Chinese, represent only the
third human genome to have been sequenced in the world. The sequence map was
created using advanced sequencing technology.
American scientists earlier this year created the
first two genome sequence maps, of two Caucasian people.
The Chinese project was undertaken by the Shenzhen
branch of the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), along with the National
Engineering Research Center of Systematic Bioinformatics and the Chinese Academy
Exploring genetic codes has become a basic and
essential part of the life sciences.
Wang Jun, the leader of the project and vice-director
of BIG's Shenzhen branch, said that all people share the vast majority of
genetic information that makes us human beings.
However, small differences, corresponding to just a
fraction of the whole genome, determine traits such as skin color, height,
susceptibility to diseases and responses to therapies and environments.
"We can never change our genes, but we can understand
our genetic structure better by creating a fine map of our genome sequence. This
is very helpful in preventing or controlling diseases, such as cancers," Wang
The project picked a normal Chinese man of Han
nationality, and spent half a year analyzing his genome sequence.
Wang said that if all of the copies of the printed
reports were stacked up, they would reach more than 300m high.
Now that the first diploid reference genome of an
Asian has been completed, the next step of the project will be to sequence the
genomes of more individuals to identify genetic variations in Asian populations
and explore the essential mechanisms behind many diseases.
Wang said the researchers would soon select 99
Chinese people for the project. The number of research subjects will be expanded
to 10,000 in the following couple of years.
"Everyone will have his genome sequenced in the near
future for better healthcare," he said.
At the same time, the project is trying to lower the cost to popularize the technology, Yang Huanming, director of the Beijing Institute of Genomics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.
An interpreter expains the meaning of the first Chinese diploid genome map on the 9th China High-Tech Fair in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province, on Oct. 11, 2007. (Xinhua Photo)
Yang said the first two genome sequences made in
America cost about $3 billion. The project in Shenzhen, however, has lowered the
cost to 5 million U.S. dollars.
It is expected that the cost will drop to 200,000
yuan (26,300 dollars) by 2010.
"Our final goal is to reduce the cost to less than
10,000 yuan, so that the technology will benefit more people," Yang said.
He said he hoped that in the near future genome
sequencing for patients would become as common as a physical examination.
The Ninth China Hi-Tech Fair ends next Wednesday.
(Source: Shenzhen Daily)