Human Genome Essay, Research Paper
Human Genome Project
A genome is defined as the complete collection of an organisms genetic material.
The human genome is composed of about 50,000 to 100,000 genes located on 23 pairs of
chromosomes in a human cell. It is said that a single human chromosome may contain
more than 250 million DNA base pairs, and it is estimated that the entire human genome
consists of about 3 billion base pairs. The DNA is gathered through blood samples taken
from many different people. Though each person has a unique set of DNA the difference
in a given pair of samples is less than 1 percent making the differences pale in
comparison to the similarities.
The Human Genome Project is an international collaboration of scientists who?s
goal is to gain a basic understanding of the genetic blueprint of a human being. This
information is found in each cell of the body, encoded in the DNA. The intent of this
project is to identify all genes in the nucleus of a human cell, to map where those genes
are on the chromosomes of the nucleus, and to determine the seqeuncing or the order of
these chemical subunits of the DNA.
The idea to undertake such a project was came about through a series of scientific
conferences held between 1985 and 1987. The actual project ,however, did not begin
until 1990 with the expansion of funding from the NIH and DOE. There are many nations
involved with this project as part of an informal pact including France, Germany, Japan,
the United Kingdom, and many other european nations. Also in an effort to speed up the
mapping and sequencing process several private companies have been enlisted to help
such as Celera Genomics.
Today there is a lot of research being done under the umbrella of the Human
Genome Project. For instince gene therapy is being developed as a very real cure for such
hereditary diseases as Cystic Fibrosis and Parkinsons where somewhere in the genetic
make up of the body there is a glich tht alows the nervous tissue of the brain to
deteriorate at a slow but steady rate. With gene therapy we will be able to replace the
tissue in the brain with correctly funtioning tissue from an animal such as a pig.
As of early 1999 the Human Genome Project was ahead of schedule. There is said
to be nearly 10 percent of the genome sequenced already or about 7,600 genes have been
mapped to particular chromosomes. Also, researchers have sequenced the complete
genomes of several other organisms such as E. Coli . This should help scientists to find
parallels between our genes and the genes of other organisms.
When completed this project will reap great rewards for the time and effort put in.
Biologists will be able to look at detailed DNA information that will help in
understanding the structure, organization, and function of DNA in chromosomes.
Genome maps of other creatures will provide a way for scientists to learn more about
more complex biological systems such as our own. In other words this information will
revolutionize the future biological studies.
There are however some controversial issues raised by the findings of this study.
One worry is that soon we will be able to clone humans for body parts in order to save
lives. On the surface this seems like a good idea however if put in the wrong hands this
information could be used to make clones of armies for unstable countries or it could be
used to clone those people who had bad influences on history such as hitler. Besides this
issue there is a religious question that is raised. Should we as humans be able to play god
and create life or should we let sleeping dogs lie and leave this project alone. Though
there seems to be many scary implications to the continuation of this project there is little
doubt that it won?t be completed.
After doing the research for this project and learning about the implications of this
project I feel that we should continue in good faith and hope that the technology is never
used for non-medicinal purposes. My grandmother suffers from parkinsons disease and
there is nothing I would like more than to see a cure developed through gene therepy for
her disease and others like it. In my opinion this project should continue full steaam
ahead until it is finished.
The National Human Genome Research Institute Website http://www.nhgri.nih.gov/Policy_and_public_affairs/Communications/Publications/Maps_to_medicine/about.html
Starr and Taggart. Biology The Unity and Diversity of Life Eighth Edition. Belmont:
Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998.
Human Genome Project Information Website
Starr and Taggart. Companion Compact Disc to Biology The Unity and Diversity of Life Eighth Edition. Belmont:
Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998.
Human Genome Research Website