Monday, October 25, 2004


DNA: a complex volume

From The Speculist

Ten years ago most genetic scientists thought that the human genome consisted of 100,000 or more genes.
After further analysis, scientists in the U.S., Asia, and Europe announced this week that the estimate of functioning human genes is only 20,000 to 25,000.
This is good news. If finding the cause of a genetic disease were like finding a needle in a haystack, the size of the haystack is only 25% of the size we thought it was a decade ago.
I hope the Speculist is right, but have my doubts that this will simplify things quite as much as hoped.

If creating a human only takes one-fourth as many genes as previously thought, then the interrelationships between those genes (and/or the physical characteristics they inspire) must be correspondingly more complex.

Many genes will have one-to-one relationships to specific undesirable conditions, but many others will depend on increasingly complex interactions. To be honest, I would have preferred more genes and simpler relationships; volume scales better than complexity.