Thursday, November 23, 2006

90% or 99.9% - The gene quandary

I was in two minds about whether to post this item here or in my Leave Good Enough Alone blog! But it is a pretty basic question, so here goes ...

Are we gullible or are we gullible? I was watching a TV science show special a week or so ago, and it made the oft-repeated statement that our human genes are almost identical, one person to another. And our genetic structure is remarkably similar to that of monkeys, and earthworms, and amoebae, and ... Or is it?

We watch ultra-modern analytic equipment doing its stuff, see gene structures flash across the screen, and listen to various genetics "experts" make their pronouncements. (And, if they're wearing white lab coats that makes them all the more believable!)

But, as of now in late 2006, how much do we really know about genetics and molecular biology and how much do we still have to discover?

These musings bubbled out of my unconscious today when I came across the Reuters article: New human gene map shows unexpected differences which starts off:
One person's DNA code can be as much as 10 percent different from another's, researchers said on Wednesday in a finding that questions the idea that everyone on Earth is 99.9 percent identical genetically.

Certainly intriguing, isn't it. I wonder where it eventually will all lead to.