- 4 updates
Our Science Editor Lawrence McGinty explains why DNA, previously classed as having no obvious use, could in fact be used to fight off genetic disease.
- The genes that control the colour of your eyes, or your blood group, or anything else about you, make up only 2 per cent of the total.
- Until recently large amounts of the human genetic code, or genome, were dismissed as "junk" - DNA sequences that had no function.
- The findings show that around 80% of the genetic code is actively involved in keeping life going.
Scientists have discovered that huge parts of our DNA - which were previously thought to have no obvious use - could in fact be essential in controlling genetic diseases.
So-called 'junk' DNA contains millions of 'switches' which can turn genes on or off. That could include controlling genes which lead to a hereditary diseases such as breast cancer or cystic fibrosis.
In the future, scientists hope the findings will lead to a deeper understanding of numerous diseases and help them devise more effective diagnostic tools and treatments.