DNA ‘junk’ debunked

It’s been a long held notion that the vast majority of the stuff making up the long strands of our DNA is ‘junk’ and only small chunks of deeply buried code contribute to making us who we are.

However, hold onto your deerstalker, Sherlock, for the most complete picture yet of the human genome has now been mapped by scientists. Collaborating through institutions around the world under the banner ‘ENCODE’ they’ve discovered that what we thought was junk, isn’t! An elementary misnomer to add to an ever growing list (‘god particle’, ‘selfish genes’, ‘tin foil’, et al) my dear, Dr Watson!

When you get down to the nitty gritty of the case, these bits of junk apparently act as switches that control how genes function within the cells of our body. A lot of investigative work will have to be done in trying to comprehend how these control networks regulate our development, but a greater understanding should lead to more targeted and effective treatments for some forms of diabetes, Crohn’s disease, or hereditary heart disease. Those bounds forward though are still some way off.

About Derek Shirlaw

I'm passionate about science communication, social media, and my home country, Scotland. In particular, I have a real interest in astronomy, digital marketing, and the great outdoors.
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