The Effects of the Human Genome Project on Society

Topics: DNA, Human genome, Genetics Pages: 5 (1697 words) Published: June 16, 2006
What is the effect of the knowledge gained through the mapping of the human genome on society?

Human genetics has remained a mysterious and spotty subject throughout history. The farther the human race advances, the more it learns and the more details it is able to clarify. Now, man has come to create a method of mapping out the complex and massive information stored within himself in order to better understand and further the health and lives of those around him. In the following text is explained the Human Genome Project, what it is and what it has accomplished; an objective view of the advantages to this research as well as the possible disadvantages that have arisen throughout the process. What are the long term effects of the work, and how will they influence the lives of ordinary people medically? Practically? And do the pros outweigh the cons? This paper is intended to support the idea that the mapping of the human genome through the Human Genome Project will ultimately have more benefits than deterrents to medical science and life as it is known today.

In 1990, a government funded research team set out on what has been considered one of the greatest and most significant endeavors of the century; the complete mapping of the human genome. A genome is essentially all of the DNA in any given organism, including its genes, the subject of this particular study being the human body. The Human Genome Project (HGP) was a study designed principally to identify and record all of the genes in human DNA (approximately 20,000-25,000+ on the 40+ human chromosomes) so as to better understand heredity patterns and the functions of DNA (Human Genome Project Information website). With a complete map of the human genome, a plethora of new possibilities for the advancement of medical science arise. The key players involved in this massive undertaking include Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the government founded project, and Dr. Craig Ventor, the head of a competing project whose goal was to map the human genome faster and to a higher degree of accuracy than the HGP. Ventor's extreme claim turned out to be quite justified as the HGP ended up having to borrow and copy some of the research that Ventor's group had developed simply to keep from being left far behind. Because of his revolutionary contribution to the research, Ventor has come to be known as the "Grandfather of modern genetics" (Lemonick and Thompson). The collaboration of the projects resulted in the Human genome being 99% mapped to a 99.99% degree of accuracy three years before the original intended completion date of 2005.

From the research have risen many new techniques for medicating and analyzing the human body. One of these techniques involves being able to completely map out any given persons genome incredibly accurately. As the research continues, access to this process is becoming more and more open. With a complete map of ones DNA, scientists will be able to identify any known disease related nucleotides which will help them in administering the correct and most effective treatments to patients already suffering from a disease as well as help them discover the probability of them passing on the gene to any offspring. This mapping can also help to discover the disease causing gene long before it ever shows up or the person begins to display symptoms.

While treatments and vaccines have not yet been discovered for every disease the HGP has made it possible for scientists to identify more than 14,000 of disease causing genes, helping to increase the understanding of the causes as well as begin to develop new forms of cures. It has also laid the groundwork for discovering gene sequences thereby allowing scientists to map out the codes for other organisms. With these, they are able to determine the differences in the genomes and identify those that are critical for life. The types of gene-level cures that could be found from this research could prove to...

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Human Genome Project Information. 27 Oct. 2004. U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. 23 Sep. 2005
Lemonick, Michael D., Thompson, Dick, "Racing to Map our DNA" Time Magazine 11 Jan. 1999
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