Scientists have sequenced the entire gene map of a Korean male and linked DNA variations unique to him to possible susceptibility to various cancers and other diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
It is the fifth human genome to be sequenced to date, the earlier four being that of an African, two individuals of northwest European descent and a Chinese man.
In a paper published in Nature, the researchers from South Korea and the United States said they made use of recent technical advances to home in on DNA sequences -- single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs -- that were unique to the man.
SNPs are single-letter changes in DNA sequences.
One of the researchers, Kim Jong-Il of Seoul National University's Genomic Medicine Institute, described SNPs as "the single most important source of inherited differences between human beings".
The team detected more than 3.45 million SNPs in the Korean man's gene map and a number of these have been associated in the past to various cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and rheumatoid arthritis, they wrote.
"Some could affect the efficacy, dosing or toxicity of certain drugs," they added.
A growing number of genomics companies hope to offer people a complete analysis of their genetic information in future and are fighting to bring down costs.
They say such information can help doctors make more accurate diagnoses and recommend treatment regimens more suited to the genetic makeup of the patient.
"It is important to have precise and accurate genome information of an individual since it is going to be fundamentals of personalised medicine. From this study, we found a way to obtain precise and accurate genome information," Kim wrote in an email in reply to questions from Reuters.
The researchers have since sequenced the genome of a Korean female and hope to publish their findings soon, Kim added.