A study by an international research consortium contrary to widespread belief, the gap between chimpanzees and humans is extremely big, according to.
The International Chimpanzee Chromosome 22 Consortium, comprising scientists from five nations including South Korea and Japan, on Thursday announced its findings based on a comparison of human and chimpanzee genes.
"By comparing the whole sequence of the chimpanzee chromosome 22 with the human counterpart, chromosome 21, we found 83 percent of chimpanzee coding sequences differ from that of man," said Park Hong-seog, who headed Korean researchers in the consortium.
This runs counter to the consortium's previous announcement in January 2002 that genome sequencing of humans and chimpanzees correspond 98.77 percent.
"Back in 2002, we concluded a high homology exists between humans and chimpanzees through an analysis of genome sequencing. But studies of specific genes tell us a different story," Park said.
A genome is the entire hereditary instruction for building, running and maintaining an organism and passing life on to the next generation, reports hankooki.com
According to reuters.com while there may be no more than about 30,000 to 40,000 human genes, there are more than 250,000 different proteins.
The researchers tried to calculate what the genetic code of the original ancestor of both looked like, 6 million to 7 million years ago.
It looked to them as if the original ancestor of human chimps had a larger genome, and each species pared it down differently as they evolved.
Some of the genetic differences they found may have direct implications for disease. They found differences between chimp and human immune system genes, for instance, and molecules involved in early brain development.
40 scientists from five countries; South Korea, Japan, China, Germany and Taiwan took part in the research.
Researchers say that they were able to learn that mutations and biological consequences between chimpanzees and humans are a lot more complicated than previously thought.
For example, new findings indicate that humans are more vulnerable to illnesses such as HIV-AIDS, cancer and malaria compared to chimpanzees.
"The chimpanzee chromosome 22 has genes related to some 20 kinds of diseases such as leukemia and Alzheimer's."
The human chromosome 21 is also believed to be the origin of several illnesses such as Alzheimer's and Down's syndrome. Though the multinational scientists are in the initial stages of research they hope these new findings will offer them clues to treating incurable diseases, informs chosun.com.