23 November 2006

Big surprise: we _are_ different

Mark Walport, of Britain’s Wellcome Trust explains the results of CNV (Copy Number Variant) mapping of human DNA.

resistance to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is determined in part by multiple copies of the gene CCL3L1, which cannot be seen on an SNP [Single Nucleotide Polymorphism] map

The CNV maps reveal differences which standard and SNP maps miss.

Genes important to the immune system and to brain development and activity tend to have many CNVs, the researchers said.

They picked “1,447 different CNVs that covered about 12 percent of the human genome” of which 285 are associated with diseases.

If it makes that much difference to outright disease, what else might it be changing? And here we are, fussing over trivial differences like blonde hair, skin colour, height & weight, alcohol tolerance, gender... d’oh!

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