'Darth Venter' (J. Craig Venter) & The Archon Genomics X Prize
Ed Comment: J. Craig Venter, AKA Darth Venter, is a guy to keep an eye on. (See article and related links below for much more on him).
Also interesting to note from the CNN article below is that the X Prize Foundation is offering $10 million to the first team that can sequence the DNA of 100 people within 10 days.
And check this out... the contest is called the Archon Genomics X Prize!
(If you need some background information on the Archons/the "rulers", take a look at the following links: Here, here and here)
So why is this High-speed sequencing of the DNA of multiple persons needed?
Well considering that Police may be given power to take DNA samples in the street, high-speed sequencing will be needed when the Global DNA Database is in place.
A more "far out" idea is that they acctually are looking for something IN the DNA.
Mapping own DNA changes scientist's life
Video report from cnn.com available here
Biologist-entrepreneur J. Craig Venter is part of a new kind of scientific explorer whose uncharted territory was his own genes.
Venter has just published almost all 6 billion letters, or 96 percent, of his own personal genetic code in the journal PLoS Biology. From diseases to personality traits, it's the most comprehensive human genome to date. Venter's gene map provides a new understanding of his genetic destiny, according to the DNA inherited from both his father and his mother.
Venter says it's just the beginning of a new era of personal genomics. "For the first time, we can answer almost any question of what's genetic, what's the environment. Our genes can tell us probabilities of what might happen and give us a chance to do something about it."
Today, Venter probably knows more about his own biology than any other human being. But as it stands now, the little that is understood about DNA is related to disease. For now, much of his insight is bad news.
His father's fatal heart attack may have been an early clue of heart disease risk, but his genome has now given him a glimpse of at least three genes linked to increased heart attack risk.
Venter says it gives him more motivation than just a simple family history. "In my case it gives me a little bit more motivation to try and persistently stick with healthy habits because you don't have the excuse of saying ... you know, I don't really have those traits. ... I know what is in my genetic code," he says.
He's also identified a gene linked to Alzheimer's disease. It was a surprise to him, given that he had absolutely no family history of the illness. Now, he takes statins, or drugs that lower the cholesterol in the blood, because of their proven beneficial heart effects and possible memory protection.
Venter says he takes all the new discoveries in stride. "I'll be watching it obviously and looking for preventative ideas or hints of it. I'm not afraid of it in the sense that I feel it's a sentence, because I know that it is a statistical probability."
So far, he's found genetic proof of links to blindness, alcoholism, lactose intolerance, substance abuse, hypertension, obesity, even the type of earwax he has.
But the genome is far from perfect. He doesn't see it as an absolute, but rather as a clue. It's an indicator of risk, but not a certainty. For example, Venter has a normal risk for skin cancer, but still he recently battled melanoma.
The road to personal discovery has been long and contentious for Venter. In 2000, Venter led a private team that raced the publicly funded Human Genome Project to complete the first working drafts of the human genome, creating a blueprint for the DNA of all humanity. The public project eventually took 13 years and $3 billion to complete. It was a composite of 269 people's DNA.
As then-president of the private company Celera Genomics, Venter matched the public effort at a fraction of the cost and the time. Celera's genome was a composite of five people's DNA. Years later, it was revealed that much of the genome was, in fact, his own.
Then-President Bill Clinton declared the race a tie, pronouncing the result "the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind."
Since then, Venter has left Celera and has started the J. Craig Venter Institute, which is looking for a faster way to crack the DNA code. Over the years, he has used the Celera work and $10 million to analyze DNA, including his own.
Given his past, Venter says he has carved out an unlikely place in history for himself. He says he almost flunked out of high school and spent most of youth surfing in California. He would later serve as a medic in Vietnam and eventually choose to become a scientist.
An avid diver and sailor, he's just finished a trip around the world. Between his adventure-seeking and high-risk business moves, he as well as his friends and family find it surprising that he doesn't have the gene type associated with risk taking.
He stresses that his genome is not so much about vanity, but understanding the complex balance between nature and nurture.
"It's not just straight-up determinism. The original thinking was we could really go into a preventive medicine paradigm," says Venter.
The idea is simple. Calculate the genetic probability of getting a disease and your chances at treating or beating it are better. Many genetic tests already exist for breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes, but they aren't always that reliable or predictive.
Venter and other geneticists think they're going to get exponentially better at providing more people a look at their genetic map. As the era of personal DNA sequencing evolves, several groups are racing to find new, cheaper and faster ways to map an individual's DNA. The nonprofit X Prize Foundation is offering $10 million to the first team that can sequence the DNA of 100 people within 10 days.
Dr. George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, is working on a DNA test that would identify for the consumer 1 percent of his or her DNA at a cost of $1,000. He says that someday soon, people may be checking their DNA maps as they do their stock portfolios -- constantly adjusting to everyday developments and new gene discoveries.
"You'll have all that information sitting at your desk and as the information flows in you'll say, 'I only want to know things of certain type. I don't want to know about Alzheimer's, or I don't want to know about heart disease, or I do, or I want to know about everything, as soon as it comes in," says Church.
It's a habit Venter already follows. As more genes are discovered, he says, he constantly checks his own genome.
"There will be a tipping point where everybody wants it to be part of their medical history," says Church.
But someday soon it may affect more than just your medical history.
"Maybe this will be the new mating information. Once we all have our genomes, some of these extremely rare diseases are going to be totally predictable," says Venter.
Article from: http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/09/04/dna.venter/index.html
I'm the human genome, says 'Darth Venter' of genetics
By Robin McKie | guardian.co.uk
Sunday April 28, 2002
Craig Venter, the controversial geneticist who led private industry's decoding of the human genome, has revealed a startling secret. The genome - unravelled two years ago - is his.
To the surprise of scientists, Venter has admitted that much of the DNA used by his company, Celera Genomics, as part of this decoding effort came from his cells. The news has annoyed his colleagues, who claim that Venter subverted the careful, anonymous selection process they had established for their DNA donors.
But Venter says the data revealed by his own scanners may already have been crucial in lengthening his life. He has announced he has started taking fat-lowering drugs after analysing results of his genome analysis.
Both sides of the decoding project - an international, publicly funded arm, and a private industrial group led by Celera - said they had used DNA from anonymous donors. Celera said theirs was drawn from a pool of 20 donors from five ethnic groups. But now Venter has revealed he had overridden the process when he was head of the company, with the result that its genome was mostly based on his DNA.
Given his reputation as the 'Darth Venter of genetics', the egomaniac who tried to hijack the human genome project, the revelation will only fuel the scientific controversy surrounding him.
'It doesn't surprise me. It sounds like Craig,' said Nobel laureate James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.
Venter said that because of his action he had discovered that he had inherited a variant gene known as ApoE4 from one of his parents, a piece of mutant DNA associated with an abnormal fat metabolism and an elevated risk of Alzheimer's. He is taking fat-lowering drugs to counteract its effects.
As to his reasons for his actions, Venter was unequivocal. 'How could one not want to know about one's own genome?' he said. Neither was he fazed about accusations of egocentricity. 'I've been accused of that so many times, I've got over it,' he said.
Celera's science board was not so understanding. 'Any genome intended to be a landmark should be kept anonymous. It should be a map of all of us, not of one, and I am disappointed if it is linked to a person,' said board member Arthur Caplan.
He added that the drive to sequence the human genome was an opportunity for personal glory as well as scientific discovery. Venter's action emphasised the first motive.
Article from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4403109,00.html
DNA - Pirates of the Sacred Spiral - Dr Horowitz
Take a look at this section of Len Horowitz talk on Pirates of the Sacred Spiral for more on how the Human Genome Project was hijacked.
Scroll forward to 34 minutes 26 seconds for this part, or click here to go there directly.
Origins of Evil - Michael Tsarion
Take a look at this excellent lecture by Michael Tsarion for much more on the connection between Genome/DNA and the "Archons" the ancient gods.
Part 3 around 5:09 highlights this, but I recommend watching the whole talk from the start to get full context.
Human Genome Project
Most of the research for the Human Genome Project was done by an international public NGO, with some research done independently by a private company Celera Genomics. The HGP was originally aimed at the more than three billion nucleotides contained in a haploid reference human genome. Recently several groups have announced efforts to extend this to diploid human genomes including the International HapMap Project, Applied Biosystems, Perlegen, Illumina, JCVI (J. Craig Venter Institute), Personal Genome Project, and Roche-454.
Initiation of the Project was the culmination of several years of work supported by the Department of Energy, in particular workshops in 1984 and 1986 and a subsequent initiative the Department of Energy. This 1986 report stated boldly, "The ultimate goal of this initiative is to understand the human genome" and "Knowledge of the human genome is as necessary to the continuing progress of medicine and other health sciences as knowledge of human anatomy has been for the present state of medicine." Candidate technologies were already being considered for the proposed undertaking at least as early as 1985.
James D. Watson was Head of the National Center for Human Genome Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States starting from 1988. Largely due to his disagreement with his boss, Bernadine Healy, over the issue of patenting genes, he was forced to resign in 1992. He was replaced by Francis Collins in April 1993, and the name of the Center was changed to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in 1997.
The $3-billion project was formally founded in 1990 by the United States Department of Energy and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and was expected to take 15 years. In addition to the United States, the international consortium comprised geneticists in China, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
US company plans to hijack DNA project
From: February 1, 1992
The Medical Research Council's prestigious Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge could be on the verge of losing one of its leading scientists, John Sulston, to a private company in the US. Sulston's possible departure is causing dismay at the MRC laboratory and elsewhere, because he is joint leader of what is widely acknowledged to be the most significant single project in the drive to decipher the entire human genetic blueprint. If Sulston goes, the project would in effect go with him, delivering a tremendous blow to British science.
The private company with its eye on the nematode sequencing project is still being formed and has no name. It will be financed by wealthy industrialist Frederick Bourke and masterminded by Leroy Hood, a pioneer in automated DNA sequencing at the California Institute of Technology.
Read more: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg13318060.400.html