Davis unravels the role that the immune system plays on compatibility, whether in tissue transplants or sexual attractionThe hype surrounding the sequencing of the human genome from 2001 to 2003 suggested that we had now cracked the master code of life and that medical benefits would quickly flow in great profusion. In truth what happened was this: in 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the alphabet of DNA – it had only four letters. How promising that simplicity seemed! But 50 years later the raw genome as decoded consisted of a three-billion-long permutation of these four letters and there were no spaces between the words. The Rosetta Stone was child’s play compared to this.At first it was thought that around 98% of it wasn’t words at all, just random accumulations of non-functional junk. Now the picture is becoming clearer and some of the “junk” has a properly assigned function, but the complexity revealed is staggering.Beyond the totalising endeavour of the Human Genome Project, a much more focused look at the specific functions of genes is now yielding the deep knowledge we have always sought. Daniel Davis is director of research at the University of Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books