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Biology 103
2001 First Web Report
On Serendip

What is the Human Genome Project-Why Is It Important To Society

Akudo Ejelonu

The Human Genome Project (HGP) is an international thirteen-year project that began on October 1990. It is important because it uses information from DNA to develop new ways to treat, cure, or even prevent the thousands of diseases that afflict humankind. But the road from gene identification to effective treatments is long and fraught with challenges. The Department of Energy's (DOE) Human Genome Program, directed by Ari Patinus and the National Institute of Health's National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) directed by Francis Collins, together make up the United States Human Genome Project. At least eighteen countries have established genome research programs. Some of the larger programs are in Australia, Canada, Italy and Mexico. The Human Genome Organization (HUGO) helps to organize international collaboration in the genome project. In June 2000, international leaders of the HGP confirmed that the rough drafts of the human genome had been completed a year ahead of schedule. The draft sequence will provide a gibbet of sequence across ninety percent of the human genome. Efforts are still underway to complete the high quality DNA reference sequence by 2003.

The goal of the Human Genome Project is to identify all the approximate 30,000 genes in human DNA. It determines the sequence of the three billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA and store this information in data bases. It improve tools for data analysis, transfer related technologies to the private sector and addresses the ethical, legal and social issues that may arise form the project.

Technology and resources created by the HGP already have a major input on research across the life sciences. There are some potential benefits of HGP research to they are molecular medicine, microbial genome, risk assessment, evolution, DNA forensic and agriculture. The HGP is "starting to have profound impact on the biomedical research and promise to revolutionize the wider spectrum of biological research and medical medicine" (1).

With the HGP molecular medicine can improve diagnosis of disease, detect genetic predispositions to disease earlier, ration drug design, control gene therapy and control systems of drugs, and create pharamacogenomics customs drugs. The potential for using genes themselves to treat disease, known as gene therapy, has captured the imaginations of the public and the biomedical community for good reason. This rapidly developing field holds great potential for treating or even curing genetic and acquired diseases.

In 1994 DOE initiated the Microbial Genome project to sequence the genomes of bacteria that is useful in energy production, toxic waste reduction, environmental remediation, and industrial processing. Microbial genomic will also help pharmaceutical researchers gain a better understanding of how pathogenic microbes cause disease. Sequencing their microbes will help reveal vulnerabilities and identify new drug tests." "Gaining a deeper understanding of the microbial world also will provide insights into the strategies and limits of life on this planet"(1). Within the next decade, researchers will find most human genes. A major challenge for the 21st century is to show how faulty genes play a role in disease causation. Drug design will be revolutionized as researchers create new classes of medicines based on a reasoned approach using gene sequence and protein structure function information. The drugs, targeted to specific sites in the body, promise to have fewer side effects than many of today's medicines.

Genomic study will have a huge impact on the ability to assess risks posed to individuals by exposure to toxic agents. This knowledge will address DOE's mission to understand the effects of low-level exposures to radiation and other energy-related causes especially in terms of risk of cancer.

Genetics will help us understand human evolution and the common life that we all share in biology. In the Human Genome Project human evolution research is study evolution through germline mutations in lineages, study migration of different population groups based on female genetic inheritance, study mutations of the Y chromosome to trace lineage and migration of males, and compare breakpoints in the evolution of mutations with ages of populations and historical events.

Any type of organism can be identified by examination of DNA sequences to identify individuals, forensic scientist perform DNA fingerprints which is when scientist scan about ten DNA regions that vary from person to person and use the data to create a DNA profile of the individual. Plant and animal genomes allow us to create more disease resistant plants. This reduces the costs of agriculture and providing consumers with more nutritious, pesticides-free foods. Farmers have been able to increase outputs and reduce waste because their corps and herds are healthier.

Some of the legal, ethical and social issues concerns arising from the new genetics are the fairness in the use of genetic information by usurers; privacy and confidentiality of genetic information; psychological impact and stigmatization due to individuals' genetic differences. Most people think that science is remote from the work they do, the lives they lead, and the decisions that they make day by day. The progress of science can potentially invade your life in the most direct ways, affecting the choices you make at the grocery store, your own health care and that of your family, and even your reproductive decisions.

The Human Genome Project (HGP) has created the field of genomic understanding genetic material on a large scale. The medical industry is building upon the knowledge, resources, and technologies emanating from the HGP to further understanding of genetic contributions to human health. As a result of this expansion of genomic into human health treatment, the field of genomic medicine has been born. Genetics is playing an increasingly important role in the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of diseases.

All diseases have a genetic component, whether inherited or resulting from the body's response to environmental stresses like viruses or toxins. The successes of the Human Genome Project (HGP) have even enabled researchers to pinpoint errors in genes, the smallest units of heredity that cause or contribute to disease.

An increasing number of gene tests are becoming available commercially although the scientific community continues to debate the best way to deliver them to the public and medical communities that are often unaware of their scientific and social implications. While some of these tests have greatly improved and even saved lives, scientists remain unsure of how to interpret many of them. Also, patients taking the tests face significant risks of jeopardizing their employment or insurance status. And because genetic information is shared, these risks can extend beyond them to their family members as well.

The connection between science and health is a direct one, and your ability to understand the science behind health affects your ability to understand the issues and the stakes. Science may seem difficult, because scientists often use technical language to talk about abstract ideas. Most people are curious about the way their bodies work and this curiosity goes beyond immediate concerns about any specific health condition.

WWW Sources

1) Human Genome Project ,

2) Judicature: Genes, Dreams, and Reality ,

3) Human Genome Research ,

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