It has been over 115 years since the Chromosome Theory of Inheritance, the proposal that chromosomes carried the factors of Mendelian inheritance, was articulated by Walter Sutton and Theodor Boveri. Since then, we have seen a remarkable evolution in our understanding of how the genome relates to human health and disease. As is the often case with scientific inquiry, the pace of discovery proceeded in fits and spurts. 50 years passed between when the structure of DNA was solved and the human genome was sequenced. Nonetheless, a combination of human curiosity, ingenuity and persistence coupled with the development of increasingly sophisticated technologies to probe the genome have brought us to an exciting new era in genomic research.
Anyone who took an introductory biology course prior to 2000 had been given the basics of the genome and how it’s organized. The rules were simple. Within a cell is a structure called the nucleus that houses our genome on 23 pairs of chromosomes. Chromosomes themselves are made up of molecular “building blocks” that form the famous Watson & Crick double helix. Stretches of these building blocks along the linear space of a chromosome define genes, which encode for proteins that are the workhorses of cellular function: DNA makes RNA makes Protein. Any region that does not define a gene (intergenic regions) is “junk DNA” and can be written off as worthless. Besides, the view was that it was likely that there was not much junk DNA anyway.
Oxford Biodynamics PLC (LON:OBD) was spun out from Oxford University in June 2007 with the aim of translating fundamental scientific advances into a commercialised platform technology and a new generation of biomarkers for cancer, ALS and other diseases.