look at my chimp genes

From bacteria to mice to men, add the chimpanzee, our closest relative, to the growing number of creatures having their genomes — their genetic blueprints — sequenced and decoded. Eric Lander of the Broad Institute, a joint venture between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, is one of the lead researches. This first draft of the chimpanzee genome has been placed on the Internet for all and sundry to gawk and gaze upon, completely free of charge, at www.ncbi.nih.gov/Genbank. To help biomedical researchers they have also aligned the chimpanzee sequence with the human sequence, so areas of interest can be compared. It should help provide valuable information on human disease, human evolution and population genetics. But just in case you decide to look up the sequence and find you don’t understand what it means, don’t despair. An international team of scientists is even now pondering the exact same thing and plans on publishing their analysis in the next few months. And geneticists from Cornell University and Celera Diagnostics have already made a stab at pointing out some differences: Looking at the chimp draft in progress, they report in the Dec. 12 Science that genes involved in smell and hearing are significantly different between the two species. Perhaps, one day very soon, we’ll finally know exactly what, genetically speaking, makes up humans and not chimpanzee.

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 12/16/2003.
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