A second DNA code was discovered by scientists at the University of Washington that is responsible for controlling how cells created in the body control human genes and the findings are leading to speculation that it could forever change how doctors uncover, diagnose and treat various diseases.
The new findings were published in the journal Science and could lead to a huge shift in how scientists and doctors use human genomes in the treatment of various ailments.
The research is part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, or ENCODE, a multiyear effort that is funded through the National Human Genome Research Institute.
The new DNA code was found within deoxyribonucleic acid, which is the hereditary material found in virtually every cell of the body, and was discovered to be written on top of the DNA code scientists had already discovered and mapped.
"For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made," John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine, said in a statement. "Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture. These new findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways."
Researchers previously believed that the human body contained only one code of DNA that controlled how cells make proteins. However, the second code went overlooked for so long because it is actually found on the first DNA code, as reported by AFP.
"The fact that the genetic code can simultaneously write two kinds of information means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously," Stamatoyannopoulos added.