Craig Venters' DNA decoded

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Genetic barcode?: There are ch the J Craig Venter Institute in the us decoded the dna of its founder, Craig Venter. This is the first ever complete genome from an individual. Experts suggest that next in line could be a stage where people will be able to find out their genetic vulnerabilities and take preventive action.

A genome sequence gives near-complete genetic information about individuals, including their physical characteristics. "It allows people to alter their lifestyle to reduce health risk," says Chris Tyler-Smith of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, uk.

The decoded sequence shows the genetic variation between people is five to seven times higher than previously believed."The significance of this higher genetic variation cannot be adjudged since we do not know where the variations lie," says Pushpa Mittra Bhargava, former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad.

Who can afford it? dna decoding is highly expensive and the poor may not benefit from it. The cost of analysing Venter's genome was a whopping us $10 million. There is hardly any assurance that the genetic data of individuals or communities will be used only on humanitarian grounds. Many fear this could trigger another form of discrimination based on a person's genetics.

Patenting of genomic information is also another alarming possibility. Patents for genetic tests usually incorporate claims on the sequence for the next 20 years. This includes products developed by using the sequence.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.