The Human Genome Project (HGP) is an international research program designed to construct detailed genetic and physical maps of the human genome, to determine the complete nucleotide sequence of human DNA, to localize the estimated 80,000 genes within the human genome, and to perform similar analyses on the genomes of several other organisms used extensively in research laboratories as model systems.
This project is estimated to take 15 years to complete from October 1990 and has already cost the U. S. 2. 5 billion dollars. The scientific products of the HGP will comprise a resource of etailed information about the structure, organization and function of human DNA, information that is the basic set of inherited instructions for the development and functioning of a human being. What is the overall goal of the Project? In September, advisory committees at DOE and NIH approved new 5-year goals aimed at completing the Human Genome Project two years earlier than originally planned in 1990.
The new plan, published in the October 23, 1998 issue of Science, covers fiscal years 1999-2003 and calls for generating a “working draft” of the human genome DNA sequence by 2001 and obtaining he complete and highly accurate reference sequence by 2003. A new goal focuses on identifying regions of the human genome that differ from person to person. Although the vast majority of our DNA sequences are the same, scientists estimate that humans are 99. 9% identical genetically.
These DNA sequence variations can have a major impact on how our bodies respond to disease, environmental insults, such as bacteria, viruses, toxins, drugs and other therapies. Other major goals outlined in the plan include exploring the functions of human genes using methods that include comparing human DNA equences with those from organisms such as the laboratory mouse and yeast. Then they must address the ethical, legal, and social issues surrounding genetic tools and data, develop the computational capability to collect, store, and analyze DNA.
If successful, the completion of the human DNA sequence in 2003 will be the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick’s description of the fundamental structure of DNA. Already revolutionizing biology, genome research provides a vital thrust to the increasing productivity and pervasiveness of the life sciences. Current and potential applications of genome research address national needs in molecular medicine, waste control and environmental cleanup, biotechnology, energy sources, and risk assessment.
Scientific Processes Chromosomes, which range in size from 50 million to 250 million bases are broken into very short pieces. Each short piece is used as a template to generate a set of fragments that differ in length from each other by a single base (template preparation and sequencing reaction steps). Now the fragments in a set are separated by gel electrophoresis. Then fluorescent dyes allow separation of all four fragments in a single lane on the gel. The final base at the end of each fragment is identified (base calling step).
This process recreates the original sequence of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs for each short piece generated in the first step. Current electrophoresis limits are about 500-700 bases sequenced per read. Automated sequences analyze the resulting electropherograms and the result is a four-color chromatogram showing peaks that represent each of the 4 DNA bases. After the bases are read by a computer, another computer is used to assemble the hort sequences in blocks of about 500 bases each, called the read length into long continuous stretches that are analyzed for errors, gene-coding regions, and other characteristics.
Finished sequence is submitted to public sequence databases, such as GenBank. Now The Human Genome Project sequence data is made free to anyone around the world who would like to view it. 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 haven’t thought about yet. Genome maps of other organisms will provided so we can compare them to the human genome and let us compare and understand other biological systems.
Information generated and technologies developed will revolutionize future biological explorations. Genes involved in various genetic diseases will be found, and further studies will lead to an understanding of how those genes contribute 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 diagnostics are combined with information coming from genome maps.
Researchers will be able to identify individuals predisposed 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. There isn’t that much difference between human biology and cattle or mouse biology.
What we learn about human genetics will help us to raise healthier, more productive, disease-resistant farm animals that ight, through wise and careful genetic engineering, produce drugs of value to us. Technologies, databases, and biological resources developed in genome research will have an enormous impact on a wide variety of biotechnology-related industries in such fields as agriculture, energy production, waste control, and environmental cleanup. The potential for commercial development presents U. S. industry with a great deal of wealth and opportunities from sales of biotechnology products.
The Criticism With all the benefits people tend to forget about a lot the things that could hurt our way of life by uncovering this nformation. This new information could be used to take biological warfare to a new level that is incomprehensible. It could also create a form of genetic racism that could separate countries and states. There are some less serious but still very important legal and social and ethical issues that will also need to be addressed. One of the major ethical issues is if we will allow this technology to be used to genetically engineer a so called “Super Race”.
In my opinion I don’t think messing human nature in this way is a good idea at all. It could cause less genetic diversity which makes humans what hey are. There’s also the big picture of over population and how it could ruin our planet. Nature has to take it’s course even with this technology unless we can figure out how to make other planets inhabitable for humans. Genetic Information Discovered So Far According to the Genome Database (GDB), the public repository for human genome mapping information, over 7600 genes had been mapped to particular chromosomes in January 1999.
Tens of thousands of human gene fragments have been identified as expressed sequence tags (EST’s). These are lso being assigned to positions on chromosome maps The physical mapping goal is to establish a marker every 100,000 bases across each chromosome (about 30,000 markers). The most complete map yet was published in summer 1997 and featured about 8000 landmarks, which provided about twice the resolution of previous maps. Similarly detailed maps have been produced for a few individual chromosomes, but this map offers landmarks across the entire human genome that are also positioned relative to each other.
Currently an estimated 5% of the human genome has actually been sequence. My Opinion In my opinion I believe that the information found by the Human Genome Project is going to be a useful tool for our future, and well worth the billions of dollars it is costing us. But there will need to be laws made to protect it from being misused. It should be used to cure diseases by gene therapy and to better our lives with this technology. It shouldn’t be used to make a “Super Breed” of humans or cloning. The information should also be banned from being used in the military. If this information is not used improperly I believe it will better our lives.