Ever since the completion of the human genome over a decade ago, scientists have been struggling to understand some of its counter-intuitive findings. One of these was the realisation that humans – with our trillions of cells, hundreds of cell types and extraordinarily complex anatomy, physiology and behaviour – contain pretty much the same number of genes as a tiny and simple worm. The genes are not only similar in number between the two species, but encode very similar proteins. Another astonishing discovery is that around 98% of the human genome doesn’t code for proteins at all. So why do humans contain so much of this type of DNA, which until very recently had been dismissed as “junk”?
Junk: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome explores the exciting new developments in our understanding of human DNA. It lays out the latest science that shows how the so-called junk DNA is in reality highly functional, but operates in a completely different way from the traditional genes. This previously neglected 98% of our genome may hold the answers to a remarkable range of questions, from the reasons why humans are so complex, to the mechanisms of ageing, and even new ways to treat devastating human diseases.
Nessa Carey has a PhD in virology from the University of Edinburgh and has had successful careers in both the university and commercial settings. She was a Senior Lecturer at Imperial College School of Medicine in London, where she led a research team investigating a genetic disorder that gets worse and worse as it passes down through the generations in an affected family. For nearly ten years she has worked in the biotech industry, trying to take basic science discoveries and turn them into new treatments for human diseases. Over the last four years she has been working with some of the...
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