New DNA map tells how we differ

Oct. 27, 2005 at 11:30 AM
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SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- International scientists meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, announced the completion of a DNA map that can tell what makes people different.

The HapMap can explain common variations in the human genetic code, which could accelerate the search for the genes behind a wide range of diseases, reports the Boston Globe.

The scientists working for three years on the $138 million International HapMap Project scanned the DNA of 269 volunteers on three continents and found deep patterns in the seemingly random genetic variations that make one person different from another, the report said.

They found that the human DNA comes in distinct blocks, each of which can be identified by looking at only a few locations and allow scientists to find elusive genetic variations that cause disease. The finding also will help in understanding human afflictions and why people respond differently to drugs.

"This is a profound step forward," U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt said at the conference of the American Society of Human Genetics. The HapMap is described in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

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