Thursday, September 6, 2012

junk DNA not really junk

We constantly need to be reminded that scientific conclusions (or opinions) at any given time really only represent "current thinking" on the subject. 

In a remarkable about-face the federally-funded Encode project has come up with a startling find (though for proponents of Intelligent Design, this is no surprise)...

Now scientists have discovered a vital clue to unraveling these riddles. The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches...

There also is a sort of DNA wiring system that is almost inconceivably intricate...

The big surprise was not only that almost all of the DNA is used but also that a large proportion of it is gene switches. Before Encode, said Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, a University of Washington scientist who was part of the project, “if you had said half of the genome and probably more has instructions for turning genes on and off, I don’t think people would have believed you.”

Previously "junk" DNA was put forth by atheists as evidence that our genetic make-up is the result of a long, randomless, purposeless process.

Read the NYTimes article here.  


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