Paris: A Japanese has joined the elite club
of humans whose genetic code has been fully sequenced,
according to research unveiled on Sunday.
The unnamed male gave a sample of DNA which has been
unravelled to show all three billion base pairs, or "letters"
in the double-helix code for life.
Six other genomes are reported to have been fully
sequenced since 2001.
They comprise the genomes of James Watson, who
co-discovered the structure of DNA; Craig Venter, a US biotech
tycoon; a male of the Yoruba ethnicity of western Africa; two
Korean males; and a male of Han Chinese ethnicity.
The study, published online in the specialist journal
Nature Genetics, is headed by Tatsuhiko Tsunoda of the Centre
for Genomic Medicine in Yokohama.
An international research consortium has launched the
so-called "Thousand Genomes Project" aimed at fully sequencing
the genomes of 1,000 anonymous individuals and placing the
data in the public domain.
The project aims at shedding light on genetic variations
that can explain inherited vulnerability to disease, tailor
drugs to individual needs and help explain the odyssey of
In email exchange with AFP, Tsunoda said he was cautious
about making any early comparison between the Japanese and the
other known genomes, as the seven sequencing projects used
different methods to unravel the DNA and analyse it.
"More samples -- dozens -- would be necessary, which is
our future plan," he said.
Tsunoda said his team were working on new ways to spot
patterns of multiple variations in the gene code.
"In the future, we would be able to find (a) huge number
of variations in individual genomes that should be related to
many diseases," he said.