Scientists have produced an instruction manual for the human genome that provides a framework to better understand the relationship between an individual’s genetic make-up and his or her lifestyle. The international team of researchers says their study – published online on March 3, 2013 in Nature Biotechnology – provides the best model yet to explain why individuals react differently to environmental factors such as diet or medication. “This research is the second important stage of our understanding of the human genome,” said study author Professor Pedro Mendes, from The University of Manchester’s School of Computer Science. “If the sequencing of the human genome provided us with a list of the biological parts, then our study explains how these parts operate within different individuals. The results provide a framework that will lead to a better understanding of how an individual’s lifestyle, such as diet, or a particular drug they may require is likely to affect them according to their specific genetic characteristics. The model takes us an important step closer to what is termed ‘personalized medicine,’ where treatments are tailored according to the patient’s genetic information.” The research, which involved scientists from Manchester, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Reykjavik, San Diego, Berlin, and other locations, mapped 65 different human cell types and half of the 2,600 enzymes that are known drug targets in order to produce the network model. Co-author Dr. Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Professor of Bioanalytical Science at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, said, "To understand the behaviour of a system, one must have a model of it.
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