Buy the human genome on CD

The product of a million years of evolution on a single CD
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

A working draft of the human genome has been squeezed onto a standard CD, and will be available for sale at newsagents throughout the country later this week.

The public international human genome project, funded by the Wellcome Trust in the UK, provided the data to put 2.5 billion chemical "letters" of human DNA on a CD-Rom for the first time.

Tim Hubbard, head of human genome analysis at the Sanger Centre in Cambridge, created the CD in his spare time for the front cover of political and intellectual magazine Prospect.

The CD will run on a PC or Mac, and opens up a browser that enables the entire DNA sequence to be scrolled across the top of the screen as a series of letters. A visual representation is also given of 24 human chromosomes, with genes being marked by different colours.

"The CD will allow people to see how big the damn thing is," said Hubbard. "Anything on CD will be out of date by the time it is printed, but it will offer a current snapshot from the human genome project." The CD is not to be mistaken for containing the entire mapping of the human genome, but Hubbard is confident that the working draft is "complete enough", and will be sufficient to enable all kinds of developments".

Hubbard was anxious to assert that the findings of the human genome project "shouldn't be locked away, as they belong to everyone".

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