Progress, and Applications
of the Human Genome Project
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Program
Human Genome News Archive Edition
In this issue...
Also available in pdf.
1997 Santa Fe Highlights
In the News
Private-Sector Sequencing Planned
New Venture Aims for Rapid Coverage of Genome
In May, J. Craig Venter [The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR)] announced plans to form a new company with Perkin-Elmer's Applied Biosystems Division (PE-ABD) to sequence a large portion of the human genome in 3 years for $300 million. The company plans to use several resources generated in the government-sponsored Human Genome Project (HGP). (See Bang for the Buck.) A report by Venter in Science [280(5369), 1540-42] called the plan a "mutually rewarding partnership between public and private institutions."
Delivering high-quality DNA sequence to the entire scientific community at the lowest possible cost has been the ultimate goal of HGP since its inception. Although DOE and NIH program managers welcomed the promise of substantial private-sector investment, they noted that the planned venture will be more like a rough draft rather than the publicly available, detailed "A-to-Z" recipe book promised by the genome project.
Positioning of sequencing subclones into the chromosomal puzzle is expected to be less certain sometimes than in more conservative strategies. Data release will be quarterly rather than immediate, as required of government-funded sequencing centers.
Plans for the new venture hinge on using BAC clone libraries being produced in the genome project. The capillary sequencing machine, now in beta testing, depends on sheath-flow detector technology. Venter expects to begin large-scale sequencing next spring, with 230 capillary sequencing machines running 10 times a day and generating 100 Mb of raw bases at a cost of about $.10 per base.
Processing raw data to produce finished sequence continues to be a major bottleneck in the sequencing process. The most productive sequencing centers each generated about 20 to 25 Mb of finished sequence last year, for a total of about 120 Mb. Around 200 Mb is expected for 1998.
The Venter-PE plan is to use whole-genome shotgun sequencing, a technique developed by TIGR to sequence much smaller and less complex bacterial genomes that typically have not presented the difficulties already encountered in some regions of human DNA. These include centromeric and telomeric areas and duplicated regions found throughout the genome.
Going for the Gold
Genome Project to Continue on Course
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Last modified: Wednesday, October 29, 2003
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