Friday, August 12, 2011

Our Filipino Genome

Written by Michael D. Purugganan
11 August 2011, Philippine Star | Star Science

We are our genomes, or at least a good part of who we are is engraved in our DNA. It was about a decade ago that the sequence of the human genome was released, the completion of a monumental 11-year international effort costing over P130 billion. Knowing the sequence of the human genome — the more than three billion letters that make up our DNA, including our approximately 25,000 genes — has revolutionized biology, and the science of genomics has changed research in medicine, agriculture and the environment.

Today, we roughly know the genome sequences of about 1,000 humans on the planet, part of an international effort to understand how humans differ in their DNA. But as far as I know the genome sequence of a Filipino has never been read completely, and we still remain largely ignorant of what our genes look like. Will we be able to read our genetic past in order to understand our present? Are we able to explain who and what we are based on our DNA?