Human Genome Project Essay Research Paper What

Human Genome Project Essay, Research Paper What is the Human Genome Project? The Human Genome Project (HGP) is an international research program designed to construct detailed genetic and physical maps of the

Human Genome Project Essay, Research Paper

What is the Human Genome Project?

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 detailed 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 the 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


Other major goals outlined in the plan include exploring the

functions of human genes using methods that include comparing human

DNA sequences 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 short 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


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 might, 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 information. 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 they 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 also 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.