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An overview, benefits and methodology of HGP
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Celera Genomics & HGP
- Human Genome Project
In 1998, an identical, privately funded quest was launched by the American researcher Craig Venter and his firm Celera Genomics. The $300 million Celera effort was intended to proceed at a faster pace and at a fraction of the cost of the roughly $3 billion publicly-funded project.Celera Genomics was established in May 1998 by the Perkin-Elmer Corporation (and was later purchased by Applera Corporation), with Dr. J. Craig Venter from The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) as its first president. While at TIGR, Venter and Hamilton Smith led the first successful effort to sequence an entire organism's genome, that of the Haemophilus influenzae bacterium. Celera was formed for the purpose of generating and commercializing genomic information to accelerate the understanding of biological processes.The rise and fall of Celera as an ambitious competitor of the Human Genome Project is the main subject of the book The Genome War by James Shreeve, who takes a strong pro-Venter point of view. (He followed Venter around for two years in the process of writing the book.) A view from the public effort's side is that of Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston in his book The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics and the Human Genome.Celera used a newer, riskier technique called whole genome shotgun sequencing, which had been used to sequence bacterial genomes up to 6 million base pairs in length, but not for anything nearly as large as the 3 billion base pair human genome.Celera initially announced that it would seek patent protection on "only 200-300" genes, but later amended this to seeking "intellectual property protection" on "fully-characterized important structures" amounting to 100-300 targets. Contrary to its public promises, the firm eventually filed patent applications on 6,500 whole or partial genes.Although the working draft was announced in June 2000, it was not until February 2001 that Celera and the HGP scientists published details of their drafts. Special issues of Nature (which published the publicly-funded project's scientific paper) and Science (which published Celera's paper) described the methods used to produce the draft sequence and offered analysis of the sequence. These drafts covered about 90% of the genome, with much of the remaining 10% filled in later. In February 2001, at the time of the joint publications, press releases announced that the project had been completed by both groups. Improved drafts were announced in 2003 and again in 2005, filling in roughly 8% of the remaining sequence.HGP is the most well known of many international genome projects aimed at sequencing the DNA of a specific organism. While the human DNA sequence offers the most tangible benefits, important developments in biology and medicine are predicted as a result of the sequencing of model organisms, including mice, fruit flies, zebrafish, yeast, nematodes, plants, and many microbial organisms and parasites.In 2005, researchers from the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium (IHGSC) of the HGP announced a new estimate of 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the human genome. Previously 30,000 to 40,000 had been predicted, while estimates at the start of the project reached up to as high as 2,000,000. The number continues to fluctuate and it is now expected that it will take many years to agree on a precise value for the number of genes in the human genome.
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