10 Years On, Still Much To Be Learned From Human Genome Map

Advances made in genetics of disease, but creating new drugs more complex than first thought

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The goal of developing new drugs to target diseases with genetic roots, however, will take much longer to realize.

Although the NIH states that there are roughly 350 biotechnological products currently being tested in clinical trials, new drugs take a decade or more to develop. Not only that, the knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project has actually made the field of genetic medicine even more complex. Scientists are finding that many diseases are triggered by interaction involving multiple gene variants, making it difficult to design a treatment that targets all the culprits in a particular illness.

And the complexities don't end there.

Not long ago, scientists discovered that so-called "junk" DNA, which makes up 98 percent of the genome, is not junk at all but serves critical regulatory functions.

What's more, about 10 percent of the human genome still hasn't been sequenced and can't be sequenced by existing technology, Green added. "There are parts of the genome we didn't know existed back when the genome was completed," he said.

More information

For more on developments over the past 10 years, visit the Human Genome Project website.

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