GENTECH archive


Re: What is decoding ?

On Mon, Jan 25, 1999 at 03:56:15PM +0100, Herve LE MEUR wrote:

> has quoted someone (who ?) :
> >But even as they chip away at unraveling the human genome, TIGR has already
> >published the complete genetic sequence of several other organisms.
> I though only two organisms (worm and a bacterium) had been decoded ?
> Yet, I still cannot understand what means : decoding.
> The image I have in the brain is that genome is like a map of a country.
> But we do not know where to drink, where to eat.
> Is this image true ?

Maybe you can compare it with a very complex computer program. If you have
the code on paper it's useless if you don't understand the programming
language and if you can't test it. Today the geneticists know that the code
consists of four basic elements like a computer programmer knows that the
basic elements of his language are 0 and 1, the two distinct states in a
computer but the geneticists knows nearly nothing about the flow of
information, interfaces and interactions. 

Nevertheless he is able to identify genes within a genome and therefore 
the rat race in the scientific community aims to be the first who discovers
a profitable gene and get the patent rights. Craig Venter (TIGR)
delivered himself a good example for this spirit. Some years ago he tried
to patent thousands of human gene sequences without knowing anything about
their functions. He speculated that this "decoded" gene sequences will
be one day of monetary value. Fortunately he wasn't succesfull - there
are many other scientists eager to get their share in the molecular El
Dorado and that was too much greed for a single person.