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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Human Genome Project

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History, Goals, Funding, and Recent Announcements


The human genome project was started in October 10. It is now a 1 year effort run by the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. The human genome project was originally planned to only take about 15 years. But now with new technological advances, it has boosted the project ahead years. Project goals of the Human genome project are


• To identify all the approximately 0,00o genes in human DNA


• Determine the sequences of the billion base pairs that make up human DNA


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• Store this information in databases


• Improve tools for data analysis


• Transfer related technologies to the private sector


• Address ethical, legal, and social issues that may arise from the project


(info. from www.ornl.gov)


The overall goal is to discover the approximately 0,000 genes and make them available for further biological studies. There have been many types of genome maps that have already been finished. There was a working draft of all human genome sequences announced in June 000, and published in February 001. The project is speeding up the huge money making biotechnology industry and helping the development of new medical advances.


The Human Genome project is now an international effort to sequence human DNA. Currently the project is trying to complete a final version of the euchromatic portions or the portions of DNA that contain most of the genes by spring 00. The evolving plan includes goals for further improving sequencing technologies; studying human genome sequence variation, both at the level of single nucleotides (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, or SNPs) as well as entire chromosomal segments, referred to as haplotypes; continuing to sequence the mouse genome, as well as rat, frog, puffer fish, and sea squirt genomes; and additional sequencing of microbial genomes (www.ornl.gov).


There are many benefits to society by starting this project. For example the project has identified genes for cystic fibrosis, neurofibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and an inherited form of Breast Cancer. This could then lead to cures and/or advances in treatments of these diseases. The scientific products of the Human Genome Project will contain a resource of detailed information about the structure, organization and function of human DNA. DNA sequence variations can have a major impact on how our bodies respond to disease, environmental problems such as toxins, viruses, drugs, and other therapies. Benefits of the completed Project This project will be a great jump in understanding human genes which will provide us with many answers we would like to know, and many that we havent thought about yet. Information made and technologies developed will revolutionize future biological explorations.


Genes involved in various hereditary diseases will be found, and further studies will lead to an understanding of how those genes add to genetic diseases. Among these diseases will be the genes involved in cancer. Medical practices will be altered when new clinical technologies based on DNA tests are pooled with information coming from genome maps. Researchers will be able to identify individuals given to particular diseases and come up with therapeutic practices based on new classes of drugs, immunotherapy techniques, avoidance of environmental conditions that may trigger disease, and possible replacement of defective genes through gene therapy. Another benefit will come from understanding genetic similarities between mammals and humans. What we learn about human genetics will help us to raise healthier, more productive, disease-resistant farm animals that might, through wise and careful genetic engineering, produce drugs of value to us.


Downfalls


There are also may be some bad things that could occur from this. With all the benefits people tend to forget about a lot of things that could hurt our way of life by uncovering this information. This new information could be used to take biological warfare to a new level that is unfathomable. It could also create a form of genetic racism that could separate countries and states. It could also make less genetic diversity which is what makes humans what they are. The mapping of the human genes has to be anonymous, but the information acquired will apply to every human being regardless of individual differences, color or race. The information should be general property and should not be used for business aims. Therefore no patents should be given for the human genome or parts of it.


Here is a conflict between the increasing potential of new technologies to reveal genetic heterogeneity and the standard for private insurance and employment. It may be desirable, regarding genetic factors, to adopt the same tacit consensus which prohibits the use of race discrimination in employment or insurance. Genetic mapping may become a source of stigmatization and social discrimination, and the risky population may turn into a defective population.


Ethical Problems


The ethical issues raised by the Human Genome Project are not linked with the technology itself but with its proper use. Due to the power of this new tool, its ethical, legal and social issues should be examined whilst the program is still at its start. Some of the opposition stems from the fear that the researcher may tend to play God or to interfere with the laws of nature. If we free ourselves from an uncompromising opposition to the Human Genome Project, we can assess the ethical outcomes with the same parameters that guide us whenever we examine a new diagnostic or therapeutic method. The main criteria remain the evaluation of risk versus advantage, the respect of a person as a human being and the respect of autonomy and privacy.


www.ornl.gov


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