November 23, 2004
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Genome ABCs

Y is for Guy

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genome baby

The human genome has been called the greatest text in the history of the world. It contains the genes that are the building blocks of life, with chapters and instructions about every conceivable aspect of your body and how it works. Scientists announced the rough draft of the three billion letters that make up the genome last June, but no one had yet read the book that contains secrets we can only begin to imagine. Until now.

On February 10, 2001, Nature published the results of what scientists from more than 20 academic institutions scattered throughout the world have so far concluded from their first reading of this remarkable script. Their results may surprise you.

The collection of research papers offers an in-depth view of how the genome is constructed, how it differs from one person to the next, how we can use it to fight disease and what it can teach us about our ancient past. "It’s an index to a spectacular new landscape," says one scientist about the genome, and studying it has answered all sorts of questions. What’s even more exciting though, is that by studying the genome, scientists have entered a world that raises more questions than they ever imagined.

How to Navigate through "Enter the Genome"

In collaboration with Nature, ScienCentral News has put together this special web and TV project, containing online and TV news pieces about the genome, audio and video clips, a multitude of links to other worthy genome-related sites, plus a special audio section for loyal Nature readers. Use the links in the orange "Also on ScienCentral News" field at the right to navigate through these sections. The three multimedia web articles include…

Genome ABCs

Reading the mysterious text that is the human genome has led scientists to conclude it’s not what they thought it was. It’s actually less. Yet with fewer genes than originally thought, researchers have discovered fascinating details about the genome’s complexity.

Y is for Guy

Did you ever wonder what makes a guy a guy? It’s the Y. Having an X and a Y chromosome is what makes men out of men. Now for the first time, researchers have deciphered the genes on this small but essential chromosome.

Custom Cures

Even though the differences between one person and another are minuscule, homing in on them offers scientists major clues about disease. Deciphering the genome may mean medical benefits for those suffering not just from genetic diseases, but even complex ones, like heart disease and cancer. And looking at an individual’s genome will allow doctors to tailor treatment on a patient by patient basis.

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