Genetic blueprintIn 1998, scientists announced in the Dec 11 issue of the journal Science that they have deciphered the entire genetic blueprint of an animal - the tiny nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans. This is the first time genetic instructions have been spelt out for an animal that, like humans, has a nervous system, digests food, and has sex. The worm's genetic code is spelt out by 97 million genetic letters corresponding to 20,000 genes. This work is a milestone in global efforts to unravel the entire human genetic code - or genome - which is expected to be completed in 2003. The research grew into a collaboration between 1,500 scientists in 250 laboratories worldwide. The efforts were led by John Sulston, in England and Dr Bob Waterston in the U.S.