Surprise, surprise: we don’t know everything about the human genome just yet.
A five-year project called ENCODE, for “Encyclopedia of DNA Elements,” found that about 80 percent of the human genome is biologically active, influencing how nearby genes are expressed and in which types of cells. It’s not junk DNA, which was previously thought — instead, these non-coding regions of DNA could have major bearing on diseases and genetic mutations, researchers say.
The project will rewrite the textbooks, turning the architectural blueprint of the human genome into a control schematic and instruction manual that explains how genes turn on and off. These rules dictate anything from embryonic development to the process of aging.
Of course, developing a working knowledge of the genetic “instruction manual” could be used for good or evil: Cures for the genetic diseases that have plagued mankind forever, or phenome-targeted biological weapons and Gene-tweaked super soldiers?