The Human Genome Project was one of the most influential studies of our generation. Not only has it left us with a better picture of the human genome in general, but it has also given us valuable information about countless specific genes and what they are responsible for. Some of these genes code for rather menial characteristics, while other can cause life threatening illnesses. Genome Mapping allows for the sequencing of an individual genome in order to help in the prevention and treatment disease.
DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid is an essential material that is found in almost all living organisms and serves as the carrier of genetic information for an individual, coding for any and every characteristic imaginable. Humans all have the same genes, but different variants of these genes make up an individual’s genome. These different variants allow for some people to be susceptible to certain diseases or disorders while others aren’t. So, to map a genome, one needs to first extract the DNA. There a few methods for doing this, but they are all relatively similar. Newton describes this process saying, first, the patient’s cells are acquired from saliva, blood, skin samples, hair, etc. Next, the cells (cell membrane) are broken open by chemicals, physical methods, or even sonication (applying energy via sound). Then, various detergents and other chemical compounds are added to separate and purify the DNA from the rest of the cell (Newton, 2009, pg. 5). The end result is a purified sample of the individual’s DNA, which can then be accurately analyzed.
There are several effective methods to sequence DNA. In general, one needs to find the specific combination of nucleotides on the DNA strand that in turn reveal the different variations of specific genes. Traditional methods include adding certain chemicals that allow for the different nitrogen bases (A, T, C, G) to be dyed different colors. This allows for computers to easily analyze and store the information with the use of a barcode system. This is explained, saying “the method involves the use of bar codes, not unlike those found in grocery stores, The TGen researchers found a way to index portions of the nearly 3 billion-base human genetic code, making it easier for scientists to zero in on regions most likely to show variations ingenetic traits” (“New gene sequencing method developed,” 2008, pg. 1). Furthermore, there are additional specific methods that allow for more efficient sequencing. IBM is working to produce a nanoscale DNA sequencer. This innovative method would allow for “the threading of a long DNA molecule through a three-nanometer-wide hole, known as a nanopore, in a silicon microchip. As the molecule is passed through the nanapore, it will serve as an electrical sensor or ‘bar code reader’ of the DNA” (“IBM developing nanoscale DNA sequencer,” 2009, pg. 1). Another method, which is known for its efficiency, targets a specific area of the human...