Genes in the Not So Public Domain; April 1995; Scientific American Magazine; by Beardsley; 2 Page(s)
Two commercially funded databases of DNA sequences that will identify most human genes are unlocking their computer files to researchers worldwide. This boon for biomedical work could pave the way for powerful new pharmaceuticals in the next century. Yet the projects, one bankrolled by SmithKline Beecham and the other by Merck & Co., have been the focus of rancorous disputes.
Both databases employ so-called expressed sequence tags (ESTs), short genetic sequences that can help workers find entire genes. But the similarities between the databases end there. Merck says all the information it produces will be put immediately into the public domain, with no restrictions on access. The first sequences generated by the effort, which is being conducted at Washington University, were deposited in a public-access database in February. It will be 18 months before the database contains enough ESTs to tag the majority of human genes.