The Human Genome Project Essay

2753 words - 11 pages

The Human Genome Project

Introduction

The Human Genome Project (HGP) is a plan to develop a detailed genetic and physical map of the human genome. As a result of this project, it is predicted that vast increases in technology and biological approaches to the molecular world will occur. It was speculated that this project would take two decades. Some scientist did not even think it could be done because the technology was not ready for this kind of project.

Multiple issues have arisen since the original concept for this genome project was introduced. Never before had mankind faced such issues in one project. These issues include such topics as biotechnology, ethical dilemmas, social and individual implications, health and medical care, and scientific research. When the project was started in 1990, technology could only sequence 300 base pairs at a time. This made mapping (location of genes) and sequencing (the number and pattern of "letters") of the entire 3 billion base pairs seems like an insurmountable task (Collins & Jegalian, 1999). Limited technology drew critics of the project with doubt that a complete map could be accomplished. Development of technology proved to be the least controversial issue. Ethical issues often became the center of concern. Also, the fear of attempting to clone a genetically superior race became a key issue. Many of the other issues stemmed from ethical concerns. Health and medical care implications could have a profound effect on society and individuals through prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of genetic diseases. Thanks to the HGP things like insight into basic biology, development of new technology, and medicine may be increased drastically.

History

The official start of the Human Genome Project was in 1990 as a coordinated effort between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Originally, the project was supposed to take 15 years and cost $2M per year (Collins et al). The major goals were to identify all the human genes; determine the sequences of all the base pairs in the human DNA; store the information in a database; develop tools for analyzing data; and address the ethical, legal, and social issues that would arise from the project (Collins et al, 1998).

The information found by the human genome project is expected to be the key source of biomedical information in the 21st century. Using the data found, science would be able to benefit medicine by helping us to understand and treat genetic diseases. In order to meet some of these goals, model organisms were studied to provide comparative information needed for understanding the functioning of the human genome. The data that is collected will be put in an electronic database making it easily accessible to all people (Jang, Chen, Sicotte, Schuler, 1999). Another benefit that the project will provide is new technology that will help a large range of biological and biomedical research. This...

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