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The Novel Gene -- Online

By Ralph Brave | Posted 6/21/2000

"Would you like to find a novel gene?" asks a scientist at a reknowned research institution. "We can do it in three to 10 minutes."

What? Turns out that the genetic revolution may not be televised, but it is online, and as accessible as your nearest laptop. The National Center of Biotechnology Information of the National Library of Medicine runs GenBank, the depository of all the DNA sequencing data being compiled by publicly-funded researchers the world over. And it's not just for humans. The DNA of flies, worms, viruses, mice, primates as well as the human species are all there.

With a click to www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, you'll find 7.376 billion DNA bases available to the biochemically curious. Dr. Pevsner shows how with a click on the Entrez listing on GenBank's home page, you can access nucleotides and proteins, look them up by disease or organism, even find which DNA is shared by worms, zebrafish and your uncle.

For more general information, check out the National Human Genome Research of Health's genome-sequencing effort. There's loads of info there on all aspects of the genome project, including the ethical, legal, and social researches they've conducted.

To get a glimpse of what the private sector is up to, Celera Corporation (www.celera.com) provides a Web site with pictures of kids swimming into the ocean. Haven't figured out what that means, but Celera's slogan, "Speed Matters: Discovery Can't Wait," tells you why it's biocomputing as fast as it can--you'll also find a listing of their daily stock price.

Guess what? In the time it took you to read this, the scientist and I found a novel gene. The bioinformatics age is here.

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