I am guessing that a Romney/Ryan budget won't have room for this sort of "waste."
Among the many mysteries of human biology is why complex diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure
and psychiatric disorders are so difficult to predict and, often, to
treat. An equally perplexing puzzle is why one individual gets a disease
like cancer or depression, while an identical twin remains perfectly healthy.
Now scientists have discovered a vital clue to unraveling these riddles.
The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches
that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that
turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and
other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and
scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health
because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in
hundreds of gene switches.
The findings, which are the fruit of an immense federal project
involving 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the world, will
have immediate applications for understanding how alterations in the
non-gene parts of DNA contribute to human diseases, which may in turn
lead to new drugs. They can also help explain how the environment can
affect disease risk. In the case of identical twins,
small changes in environmental exposure can slightly alter gene
switches, with the result that one twin gets a disease and the other
As scientists delved into the “junk” — parts of the DNA that are not
actual genes containing instructions for proteins — they discovered a
complex system that controls genes. At least 80 percent of this DNA is
active and needed. The result of the work is an annotated road map of
much of this DNA, noting what it is doing and how. It includes the
system of switches that, acting like dimmer switches for lights, control
which genes are used in a cell and when they are used, and determine,
for instance, whether a cell becomes a liver cell or a neuron.
“It’s Google Maps,” said Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute, a
joint research endeavor of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. In contrast, the project’s predecessor, the Human Genome Project,
which determined the entire sequence of human DNA, “was like getting a
picture of Earth from space,” he said. “It doesn’t tell you where the
roads are, it doesn’t tell you what traffic is like at what time of the
day, it doesn’t tell you where the good restaurants are, or the
hospitals or the cities or the rivers.”
The new result “is a stunning resource,” said Dr. Lander, who was not
involved in the research that produced it but was a leader in the Human
Genome Project. “My head explodes at the amount of data.”
In a Romney/Ryan world, those damned scientists could just borrow the money from their parents.