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Tutu’s genetic blueprint deciphered

world Updated: Feb 19, 2010 00:55 IST
Rob Stein

Scientists have deciphered the genetic blueprint of South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu and an indigenous bushman from Namibia as part of an ambitious and controversial project to bring modern genomic medicine to the developing world.

An international team of scientists from the United States, Australia, Namibia and South Africa decoded every gene in blood samples from the anti-apartheid leader and an elderly man named !Gubi, a member of a hunter-gatherer society that speaks with clicks from Namibia’s Kalahari Desert. They also cracked the main parts of the genetic codes of three other hunter-gatherers from the Kalahari.

The results, published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature, are the beginning of a program designed to enable researchers and drug companies to use the most advanced molecular tools of modern “personalised medicine” to help people living in less industrialised societies. Until now, most of the genetic codes that have been decoded have involved Europeans.

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