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September 4, 2007

Dr. Venter's revenge

Posted by Angel Gonzalez at 1:53 PM

In the race to decode the human genome, superstar biotech entrepreneur J. Craig Venter saw his thunder stolen by a rival, government-funded effort. But he may have ended up with the last laugh.

The Rockville, Md.-based institute that bears his name and collaborators at other research centers published today in a peer-reviewed journal the first "diploid" genome -- that is, with information from the two sets of chromosomes, one inherited from each parent. That will permit comparing genetic differences between individuals. The genome is Dr. Venter's own.

The detail and breadth of the study surpasses that of previously published genomes, which included composite data from many individuals, says a New York Times story. This approach could become "the gold standard for many years," the story said.

The study shows "five to seven times" more genetic variation between humans than in the previous genome analysis, Venter's institute said in a satement.

This method could further the push towards personalized medicine. But that would require collecting genetic information from millions of individuals, a step that raises privacy concerns. In an interview with Technology Review, Venter encourages people to make their genetic information publicly available.

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