Modern Genetics and Genetic Engineering Era 2003-2012

This era is started off with more genomes being completed. Two genomes were completed in 2004, the Brown Norway rat’s, and the chicken’s. The Brown Norway rat was the third mammal to have its genome sequenced, and has a very important role in experimental medicine development, which made it a priority. The chicken had its genome sequenced because it also is very important for being a model for various studies. Most of those studies are related to immunology and virology.

It was already known that cancer is caused when a cell makes an error and reproduces without end. In 2005, the US National Cancer Institute and the Wellcome Trust started the Cancer Genome Atlas and Cancer Genome Project. The purpose of those was to document all the genetic variants of cancer cells found in tumors, and having the ultimate goal of learning more about the causes of cancers.

Yet another sequence was completed, the Chimpanzee. The Chimpanzee’s genome was fully sequenced by 2005. The importance of this is because it’s the closest living relative humans have, and could provide insight on how we have evolved.

Also in 2005, the Case Control Consortium was started by Wellcome Trust. The goal of this consortium was to identify any genetic variations in people that could cause them to be more susceptible, or better protected against certain diseases. They did this by comparing common variants in genomes of 2000 people from the UK, each with a certain disease.

In 2008, another big project was started. Cancer researchers from all around the globe collaborated to start the International Cancer Genome Consortium. Their goal was to obtain as many genetic abnormalities in tumors from over 50 types of cancer as they possibly could, and then catalog it all. All the data that the Consortium came upon was made available free of charge for the research community.

Then in 2009, the first complete cancer genomes were sequenced. They took samples from two men. One of the men had malignant melanoma, and the other small-cell lung cancer. After that, they took healthy cells from them, and analyzed the two different samples. From doing this, they could show any and every change that happened between the cancerous cells and the healthy cells.

In 2010 the draft for the Neanderthal genome was published. An amazing achievement of modern genetics. Scientists used bones that were around 38,000 years old to obtain the DNA for sequencing. Just the fact that we can do this is astounding.

Another early species of humans, Denisovans had it’s genome sequenced in 2012. Also another pretty incredible feat, but what makes it more impressive is the source of genetic material that the scientists had. From only a single finger bone and two teeth, the scientists managed to sequence the Denisovans’ entire genome. The samples were about 80,000 years old.


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