Thursday, April 17, 2008

Genomes of scientific hubris multiply: After Venter's, here is Watson's

Nature today published genome of James Watson. Well it sounds good news more for Watson after going through one of the major controversies of his life. Otherwise the article perhaps appears much like a ‘closed access’ version of a previous PLoS Biology article detailing Craig Venter’s genome.

These mighty projects denote a competition between the ‘genome giants’ although Venter managed to be ahead of Jim Watson. While the new genome finding is more or less confirmatory of the previous individual's genome biology, the only difference what I can see is that the latter study employed new generation sequencing strategy; massively parallel sequencing.

Perhaps the most practical outcome of these studies shall be the decipherment of chunks of new single nucleotide and copy number polymorphisms and the construction of long-range haplotypes.

From a genetic health perspective, however, it is difficult to foresee how these data will be informative about or indicative of the future health of these two 'old men'. This casts shadows of uncertainty over the practical implications of such studies and it will be interesting to look if or not they will pave the way for 'personalized genomics' to usher in a new challenging discipline. If it does, there shall be much of a great biotechnology ahead, as well as community genomics in the microbial world, individual genomics in the human world and the amalgamation of the two, for example - we should be ready in a few years to see their individualized microbiomes and microbial-human interactomes !