Don't Trash These Genes

"Junk" DNA may lead to valuable cures

Junk. Barren. Nonfunctioning. Dark matter. That's how scientists have described the vast majority of the human genome since it was first sequenced in 2000. The disappointment in those words involved more than just science. It was also about ego. Given our evolutionary sophistication, our genomes--the genetic blueprint that makes us the talking, empire-building, socially complex species we are--would certainly be stuffed with important and elegant genes, coding for critical proteins of unparalleled complexity. But when all was said and done, the 3 billion base pairs that line up to make our DNA coalesced into a paltry 22,000 genes. That's just 2%...

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