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Here's a Switch: 80 Percent of Junk DNA Has Function

By Joe Aguirre - September 6, 2012

RTB’s Fuz Rana calls it the biggest discovery of his lifetime as a biochemist.

A massive new DNA research project called ENCODE has dramatically increased understanding of the human genome and may revolutionize human biology. Scientists have discovered that 80 percent of DNA that had been dismissed as “junk” plays a crucial role in how the body works. Their voluminous research, amassed in 40 papers by 32 labs and hundreds of scientists, is considered a medical and scientific breakthrough because of its implications for human health.

Millions of gene controlling switches that reside in DNA classified as junk are responsible for determining what becomes of a cell. These switches act as a genetic operating system that will help researchers understand how diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, asthma, and hundreds of others develop.

According to Fuz, this breakthrough:

• Represents rapid progress––just over a decade––in genetic understanding made possible by considerable scientific research and computing power
• Challenges one of evolution’s strongest arguments; namely, that vast portions of the human genome consist of junk (nonfunctional) DNA that results from common ancestry
• Promises insight into the onset, treatment, and reversal of debilitating human diseases
• Recognizes work to be done––this is phase two of three––and that outstanding questions remain, such as whether genetic evidence favors common descent or common design

Listen and you’ll be rewarded.

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