Human Genome Project - Human DNA Sequence - DNA Screening - Sent Using Google Toolbar

Human Genome Project - Human DNA Sequence - DNA Screening

The Human Genome Project

The human genome project was initiated in 1990 by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). It also involved hundreds of scientists from different organizations worldwide. The primary goal of the project was to determine the entire sequence of nucleotide bases (DNA) in humans (the human genome). In addition to sequencing the DNA, the project goals included identifying all of the genes in the human genome, developing and improving techniques for gene sequencing and genomic data analysis and sharing the data and technologies with the private sector.

A portion of the money raised for the project was used to address ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) arising from having determined the genome sequence.

This aspect of the project made it unique in that it was the first time a project included evaluation of ELSI arising from its own data.

The human genome project was originally scheduled to last 15 years but technological advances resulted in its early completion in 2003. Data collected on the genome sequence and newly developed techniques for screening DNA, resulted in an unprecedented boom in medical research and an abundance of discoveries linking genetic variants to an assortment of diseases such as various cancers, Altzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The knowledge that was collected will someday lead to cures and treatments and, possibly means of preventing, these diseases.

Data from the human genome project cleared up some incorrect assumptions that were previously accepted knowledge. For example, it was previously thought that the total number of genes in the human genome was 80,000 – 140,000, compared to the 4,400 found in the extenisvely studied bacterium Escherichia coli. However, we now know that there are only about 30,000 genes, 50% of which currently have unknown functions. Less than 2% of the genome encodes proteins and 99.9% of the nucleotide sequence is the same in all people. The last 0.1% can be attributed to individual differences in race, coloring and other physical factors, as well as contributing to genetic diseases. Much of the data collected on non-coding regions of DNA have helped our understanding of chromosome structure and organization.

Why Sequence the Human Genome?

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Why Sequence the Human Genome?

Sequencing the entire human genome was an ambitious project first proposed by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and co-founded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Human Genome Project was successful, however, and the first draft sequence was, in fact, completed ahead of schedule, but for what purpose? Here are some of the ways science and mankind can benefit from knowing our entire DNA sequence:

  1. Enormous advances in molecular medicine have already been made, based on identification of genetic varients linked to diseases (e.g. Parkinson's).
  2. Improved accuracy of risk assessments for environmental exposures to chemicals, xenobiotics, radiation etc. based on their impact on gene sequences (e.g. Dirty Electricity).
  3. The DOE can evaluate various energy sources based on their impact on human genetics.
  4. Sequence knowledge will assist our interpretation of data collected in fields of anthropology and bioarchaeology, and contribute to theories on evolution and species migration.
  5. Sequence data will aid forensic science particularly for identification of individuals.
  6. Technologies developed for the human genome project may be applied to other species and become useful in agriculture for plant and animal breeding and in other biotechnological applications such as protein engineering and enzyme optimization, bioremediation and bioprocessing.