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.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How Wall Street is chipping away at reform
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- 10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2014
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- How I lost all my money
- A brief history of the Christmas present
Subscribe to the Week