Human v. Address the ethical, legal, and social

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Human genome project (HGP) was a coordinated effort to characterize all human genetic material by determining the complete sequence of the DNA in the human genome. It began in October 1990. Project goals were to: i. Identify all the approximately 30,000 genes in human DNA, ii. Determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA, iii. Store this information in databases, iv.

Transfer related technologies to the private sector, and v. Address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project. An ambitious schedule has been set to complete the full sequence by the end of 2003, 2 years ahead of previous projection. Though it was originally planned to last 15 years.

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However, the work is not yet complete, as the Human Genome Project is presently working to complete a finished version of the euchromatic portions (the portions containing most of the genes) by 2003. The evolving plan includes goals for further improving sequencing technologies; studying human genome sequence variation, both at the level of single nucleotides (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, or SNPs) as well as entire chromosomal segments, referred to as haplotypes; continuing to sequence the mouse genome, as well as rat, frog, pufferfish, and sea squirt genomes; and additional sequencing of microbial genomes. All this supports ongoing efforts in comparative genomics, the most powerful way to begin to elucidate the roles of the many related genes observed in the genomes of these model organisms. Generations of biologists and researchers will be provided with detailed DNA information that will be key to understanding the structure, organization, and function of DNA in chromosomes. Genome maps of other organisms will provide the basis for comparative studies that are often critical to understanding more complex biological systems.

Information generated and technologies developed will revolutionize future biological exploration. Some current and potential applications of genome research in the following fields include –

Molecular Medicine:

i. Improved diagnosis of disease ii. Earlier detection of genetic predispositions to disease iii. Rational drug design iv.

Gene therapy and control systems for drugs v. Pharmacogenomics “custom drugs”

Microbial Genomics:

i. New energy sources (biofuels) ii. Environmental monitoring to detect pollutants iii.

Protection from biological and chemical warfare iv. Safe, efficient toxic waste cleanup v. Understanding disease vulnerabilities and revealing drug targets

Bioarchaeology, Anthropology, Evolution, and Human Migration:

i. Study evolution through germline mutations in lineages ii. Study migration of different population groups based on female genetic inheritance iii. Study mutations on the Y chromosome to trace lineage and migration of males iv. Compare breakpoints in the evolution of mutations with ages of populations and historical events

DNA Forensics (Identification):


Identify potential suspects whose DNA may match evidence left at crime scenes ii. Exonerate persons wrongly accused of crimes iii. Identify crime and catastrophe victims iv. Establish paternity and other family relationships v.

Identify endangered and protected species as an aid to wildlife officials (could be used for prosecuting poachers) vi. Detect bacteria and other organisms that may pollute air, water, soil, and food vii. Match organ donors with recipients in transplant programs viii.

Determine pedigree for seed or livestock breeds ix. Authenticate consumables such as caviar and wine

Agriculture, Livestock Breeding, and Bioprocessing:

i. Disease-, insect-, and drought-resistant crops ii. Healthier, more productive, disease-resistant farm animals iii. More nutritious produce iv. Biopesticides v. Edible vaccines incorporated into food products vi. New environmental cleanup uses for plants like tobacco.


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