Wednesday, January 16, 2008

China Begins First Large-Scale Whole-Genome Sequencing Project

Another great example of the rapid speed of progress being made by the genetic revolution-- China has begun the first large-scale whole-genome sequencing project. Nature has the story here. Here is a sample:

Next-generation human genomics has arrived. The first large-scale whole-genome sequencing project has now begun in China, and an international multi-genome sequencing programme is hot on its heels.

The Yanhuang Project, which will sequence the entire genomes of 100 Chinese individuals over 3 years was announced by the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) on 8 January. Ye Jia, a spokeswoman for the project, said that once it is completed, the BGI aims to sequence the genomes of thousands more people, including ethnic groups from other Asian countries.

....The sequencing will allow scientists to add more detail to their maps of human diversity. The last large study of diversity, the HapMap, analysed only single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs — places in which DNA differs between two individuals by just one letter of the genetic code. This approach allows scientists to hunt for relatively common genetic variants. But the evidence linking disease to rare variants is growing, says Richard Myers, director of the Stanford Human Genome Center in Palo Alto, California. Whole-genome sequencing will improve detection of these rare variants, and offer a more complete understanding of the genetics of many human traits, he predicts.