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Cracking the Code of Life
Update to Program

NOVA's "Cracking the Code of Life" was originally broadcast in April, 2001. Since then a few key facts as reported in the program have changed. (See program transcript). Here is a brief update.

In the program we followed the race to determine the sequence of chemical letters that make up the human genome. The program ends with the two participants in the race, the publicly funded Human Genome Project and the private company Celera Genomics, both completing a rough draft of the sequence.

Since the program first aired, in April 2001, the Human Genome Project has continued its work and now says it will release a highly accurate final draft of the sequence in April 2003.

Not everyone agrees this can be done, however. In the spring of 2002, the Icelandic researchers portrayed in the show announced that the current version of the sequence still contains more than 100 major errors. And a former president of the American Society of Human Genetics, Dr. Huntington F. Willard, told the New York Times that, "As much as Francis Collins and Craig Venter and others like to call the sequence complete, it is still sketchy in places and likely to remain so for some time. To call it complete, as will happen next a bit of a sham."

As for Celera Genomics, it is not working on finishing the sequence and has in fact left the business of selling the genetic information it obtained previously. Celera now develops pharmaceuticals.

Celera's founder, J. Craig Venter, has left the company and admitted that the DNA it sequenced was mainly his own.
-- Ethan Herberman.

August, 2002

Watch the Program Here | Our Genetic Future (A Survey)
Manipulating Genes: How Much is Too Much? | Understanding Heredity
Explore a Stretch of Code | Nature vs Nurture Revisited
Sequence for Yourself | Journey into DNA | Meet the Decoders
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