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New Algorithm From CMU Might Help Scientists Understand What Makes Humans, Human

Sue Ogrocki
Chimpanzee Ruben takes a ride on the back of his surrogate mother, Kito, at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

A new algorithm created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University could help geneticists understand the DNA replication process and how it varies from organism to organism. 

Take humans and chimpanzees: the two share 98.8 percent of their DNA, yet chimps are super strong, while people walk upright and aren’t (usually) covered in thick hair.

The reason for these differences can't be explained by DNA alone. Computational biologist Jian Ma, assoicate professor at CMU, said understanding the order in which genes are created during cell replication might give insight to all sorts of biological mysteries, including human intelligence.

“Because, why we are human?” he said. “We have bigger brains and presumably more intelligence.” 

It's like humans and chimps have the same ingredients, but were cooked with different recipes. 

The research was published last month in the journal “Cell Systems.”

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.
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