Over at Allen Institute of Brain Science, scientists are developing genetic map of the brain.
It might be quite surprising, why genetic map? It’s pretty well described in this Wired article.
The idea is, they cut human brain to slices and do RNA genotyping. As you may know, the DNA holds all of your genome. As I understand it, RNA contains only activated/expressed genes. By this technique, you see which genes are active in building in which part of the brain.
This is the project to combine evolutionary psychology, psychiatry, neural science and genetics. You can use it both ways. If you know, that some disease is related to some part of the brain, you can see which genes are related to that part. If you know which genes are related to the disease, you can see if it is localized in some part of the brain.
That’s the article. However, this could leed to even more discovery. Allen Institute is doing the hard manual work (of course by automated means) of collecting the data. But it’s use is what is going to push science forward. For example, we still don’t know where and how is the plan written. We don’t know how is the whole body assembled, which gene is expressed when. How does the body know which part of our genetic code to use to build the particular part of our body?
Maybe it’s in the so called non-coding DNA (the DNA that does not code any protein). Maybe not. We don’t know yet. I believe this is yet to become the discovery of this century.
Results from this project and studies, which will make use of this data are coming in next few years. And I’m really looking forward.