Recode’s Peter Kafka reports on a $100 million project to create a human “genome” that is a “digital artifact of the human race.”
The project aims to use the Human Genome Project’s digital artifact to “recreate” human life in an effort to understand how we came to be what we are, and where we are headed.
The digital artifact is a digital copy of the genetic blueprint of a person that can be manipulated, and is then “turned over” to researchers to use to understand human behavior.
“The goal is to build an entire human genome in digital form,” said Peter Schmitz, the project’s executive director.
“It is the equivalent of the digital portrait of the entire human body.”
Schmitz said that he expects to create the digital version of a genetic blueprint “within a matter of months” but did not have an exact date.
The project is focused on finding a “universal reference genome,” the blueprint of the person who was born.
The reference genome, or RFLP, is the person’s genetic makeup and their “unique” traits.
The digital artifact was first proposed in the mid-1990s, when the US National Science Foundation began funding an effort called the Human Gene Expression Project.
At that time, the human genome was about a decade old and researchers hoped to be able to produce a “genetic snapshot of the individual in time,” Schmityz said.
“It was a very exciting time for scientists,” Schmidz said, but “the sequencing technology and advances in sequencing technology have really slowed down in the last decade.”
A project like this has been in the works for several years, and it has only recently taken off, Schmitys co-founder and CEO said.
“This is a new frontier in the field,” he said.
In order to achieve this goal, the digital artifact will be created from scratch, rather than using existing data.
“The digital copy will be a digital representation of the genome,” Schmietz said.
“We have to create an entire genome in the digital form of a digital artifact.
The genome is a great object, but it’s a very small piece of the puzzle.
To understand how the human body works, we need to understand a lot more about the human gene.”
The digital version is a full copy of a human genetic blueprint that is generated by the human skin.
But it can be changed into a digital image and used to reconstruct the physical body of the deceased person.
The project, which was named for the first person to be diagnosed with a rare disease called human retinopathy, aims to find a “unique reference genome” for the person, and “turn over” it to researchers for use in their study.
Schmitys team has developed several tools that allow them to manipulate the digital genome, including a tool called “geneplasm,” which allows researchers to take a DNA sample from a person and make a copy of it.
Schmietzes team has also developed a technique called “coding alignment,” which involves a computer analyzing the sequence of letters in a DNA sequence to generate a set of binary codes that can then be used to create digital copies of the sequence.
Schmittz said his team will “turn this project into a real genome,” as it can create a “bio-print” of the original genome.
The bio-print can then “be used in gene expression studies to help us understand the biology of disease, and how it affects the human mind,” he added.