A team of 400 scientists from around the world reported that "junk DNA" — parts of DNA that do not carry instructions for making proteins, and that make up the bulk of genetic material — plays a role in regulating genes. The new study debunks a long-held theory that "junk DNA" was virtually useless, and posits that it actually plays a vital role in switching genes on and off, coordinating their behavior, and otherwise regulating their activity. The discovery is considered a major breakthrough in genetic science, and could pave the way for explaining the origins of diabetes, heart diseases, psychiatric conditions, and more. The findings are the product of five years of research by a group called the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, or Encode, and the group's research was published in Nature and other journals.
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