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Human Genome Project.

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Introduction

HUMAN GENOME PROJECT http://www.accessexcellence.org What is the Human Genome Project? Begun formally in 1990, the U.S. Human Genome Project is a 13-year effort coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. The project originally was planned to last 15 years, but rapid technological advances have accelerated the expected completion date to 2003. Project goals are to * identify all the approximate 30,000 genes in human DNA, * determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA, * store this information in databases, * improve tools for data analysis, * transfer related technologies to the private sector, and * address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project. To help achieve these goals, researchers also are studying the genetic makeup of several nonhuman organisms. These include the common human gut bacterium Escherichia coli, the fruit fly, and the laboratory mouse. Why do the Human Genome Project? Most inherited diseases are rare, but taken together, the more than 3,000 disorders known to result from single altered genes rob millions of healthy and productive lives. ...read more.

Middle

For a human being or any organism to develop normally, a specific gene or sets of genes must be switched on in the right place in the body at exactly the right moment in development. Information generated by the Human Genome Project will shed light on how this intimate dance of gene activity is choreographed into the wide variety of organs and tissues that make up a human being. Ethical Issues of the Human Genome Project Critics express several concerns about the Human Genome Project (HGP), and most involve the extent of the project or its funding. Original proposals for the project emphasized sequencing the entire human genome. This goal, however, is controversial because of the high cost and because many critics believe that sequencing a huge amount of noncoding DNA should have low priority in a time of limited funds for research. On the other hand, most individuals involved in the project agree that detailed genetic and physical maps would be extremely useful. Therefore, mapping of the genome now is the primary goal, with complete sequencing to follow only if the cost becomes reasonable. ...read more.

Conclusion

In addition, improved preconceptual analysis of the parents' genotypes can provide couples with a broader range of options for family planning. Some critics of the HGP maintain that social and political mechanisms to regulate the ultimate outcomes are insufficient. Because of the genetic variation between individuals, there never will be one definitive human sequence. The lack of a definitive sequence creates uncertainty about the appropriate definition of "normal," which in turn makes the discussion of public policy issues difficult. Questions about controlling the manipulation of human genetic materials concerns these critics, as does the idea that simply because these scientists are able to do this science, they ought to. These critics point to the development of atomic weapons and argue that the science that led to their development caused far more problems than it resolved. Few religious groups in the United States formally have addressed the specific ethical and public policy issues raised by the HGP, although there is active interdenominational discussion of issues related to human genetics in general. Public policy debates are enriched considerably by input from these various groups. ...read more.

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