Discovering how genetic ‘dark matter’ plays a role in mental illness is just the tip of the iceberg for human health

Press/Media: Articles in 'The Conversation'


Each cell in our bodies holds two metres of DNA that contains the six billion bits of the DNA code necessary for making a healthy human body. This is known as the human genome. It is now accepted that what makes people different, and contributes to their susceptibility to ill health, are the 6-10 million DNA differences in the human genome known to exist within the general population.

A surprising fact is that only 1.7% of these 6 billion bits of code represent the genes that make proteins. Proteins are the physical building blocks of our bodies and are essential to keep us healthy.

Though huge strides have been made in mapping the DNA differences associated with mental health conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and chronic anxiety thanks to the sequencing of the human genome, what surprised many was the discovery that over 98% of these DNA changes lay within the dark and mysterious remainder of the human genome that did not make protein.

Period22 Jul 2020

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