Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

HapMap, SNPs, Haplotypes, and disease treatment

The latest issue of Nature Magazine is a chestnut!

Their podcast this week features the HapMap and human genetics, Saturn's rings, sharks, and the missives of Darwin and Einstein.

The HapMap is a new map of the human genome that shows the "haplotypes", ie - the neighbourhoods of the genome where one human's gene are different from another. It promises to illuminate with greater speed and precision to the location of the genetic correlate of disease, performance and behaviour.

These different genes, called SNPs or Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, are remarkably few in their effects. According to the Scientist website: "The findings suggest that only 260,000 to 470,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are needed to capture all the common genetic variation in the populations studied, despite the fact that there are an estimated 10 million common SNPs in the human genome." Researchers took 296 DNA samples from four populations in Nigeria, Tokyo, Beijing and Utah.

The significance of the HapMap is that suddenly searching among populations for the genetic markers of disease becomes an estimated twenty times cheapter.

So what's the next step?

A proteomic map of all the proteins involved in the genome?
A glycomics map of all the carbohydrates involved?
Notes of variation around specific areas of the genome?

What a wonderful world to live in!


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