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Scientists open the book of life

A scientific achievement once thought impossible has been achieved. The human genetic instruction is complete to an accuracy of 99.99 percent. However it is now considered the foundation for a new era of medical advances. With the entire sequence in hand experts predicted it would lead to new drugs, better forecasts of people's health and new ways of treating or preventing many of the most devastating human illnesses. The six countries who were involved in the research are United States, France, Britain, Germany, Japan and China. //

A joint statement on Monday from the leaders of the six nations, including the U.S. President, George W. Bush, said the genetic map "provides us with the fundamental platform for understanding ourselves from which revolutionary progress will be made in biomedical sciences and in the health and welfare of humankind". The group, along with a competing private effort, completed a rough draft of the genome in 2000, but the draft included thousands of gaps in the long sequence of DNA base pairs. However all but 400 of those gaps have been closed now.

The genome is composed of about three billion pairs of DNA chemicals within 24 chromosomes. The genes that control the body's development, growth, functions and aging are made of specific sequences of these chemical pairs. A small change in these sequences can be enough to cause disease. By identifying the correct and healthy sequence of base pairs, researchers hope to be able to find the disease-causing genetic flaws that could lead to treatment.

American agencies and universities, led by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the Department of Energy, completed the project at a cost of about $2.7 billions, some $300 millions less and two years earlier than the original estimate. The U.S. did about half of the DNA sequencing, and some of the money budgeted for the human project was spent on sequencing other organisms, such as the mouse, and on associa ted technologies. Researchers now will use the sequences to try to speed identification of genes that cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other disorders and then to develop drugs that either prevent or treat the disorders.

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