It will most likely be some time before these new findings, which are freely available, are put to use in approved therapies. "The pharmaceutical industry has largely given up on the genome," Stamatoyannopoulos said. "And I think this is going to tremendously reinvigorate the utility of the genome." These additional genetic elements, however, are already in use for screening and testing for diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer and autoimmune diseases, Richard Myers, president of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Ala., noted in the briefing.
The group has funding to continue their efforts and does not anticipate a slowdown in discoveries going forward. "Our blueprint is remarkably complicated, and we need to be committed for the long haul to understand it," Green said. Compared with the publication of draft human genome 12 years ago—and with initial findings from the ENCODE project published over the past several years—"the questions that we can now ask are more sophisticated," Green said. And hopefully, those better questions will lead to more satisfying and medically useful answers.