Mapping The Human Genome Project Essay

1939 words - 8 pages

The greatest scientific accomplishment ever is almost complete. What could be a greater accomplishment than man on the moon? Only one thing comes to mind, mapping of the human genome. The human genome is 3.2 billion letters long. Ninety-seven percent of it is useless trash. The Human Genome Project was created a little over a decade ago. With the project coming to an end researchers will be able to figure out exactly how each gene functions--and, more important, malfunctions to trigger deadly illnesses from heart disease to cancer (Time 1999).

There is a mad race to see who will finish first. A couple of companies are in the running to finish by 2003. Independently funded Celera Genomics ...view middle of the document...

Celera Genomics can sell the genes to the company, but it would cost the company millions of dollars for genes that aren’t Celera’s, just discovered by them.

Craig Venter is known all around the world. Although other scientists hate him he is the most famous living scientist in the world today. The reason he is hated so much is because he uses robot research gene sequencers and high-speed computers in finding the genes. Other scientists argue that some of the data is not very accurate. Others call him a cheat for lifting data made public on the government’s GenBank website at tax payers expense—and then patenting sequences culled from this data, there by locking up information originally intended to be freely available (Time 2001). Many scientists also dislike him because he heads a company that patents genes for the company’s good. Venter argues that he will release the complete genome to the world when it is done for free. Many people in the genome field don’t believe him. People are really worried because he will most likely finish before anybody else. Craig Venter will be known as the man that did somewhat of the impossible.

The Human Genome project took blood and sperm samples form anonymous donors. The project’s commercial rival, Celera Genomics, put an ad The Washington Post, and selected thirty men and women form a variety of ethnic backgrounds and used six of them. Some say Celera boss Craig Venter has also has added his DNA to the mix. They take the DNA from the volunteers and try to find the genes and then put them in the correct order. From the order they can determine what the genes will do or not do to cause a serious disease.

Sometime in the next few months we shall have a rough draft of the complete human genome. Some believe it is the greatest intellectual moment in history. The human genome contains stories of our future as well as our past. Genetic engineering has the potential to conquer cancer, grow new blood vessels in the heart, block the growth of blood vessels in tumors, create new organs from stem cells and perhaps even reset the primeval genetic coding that causes cell to age (Time 1999).

Scientists still have a long ways to go to completely finish. Knowing the code for a gene doesn’t mean you know what protein in produces in the body, or what the protein does, or how it interacts with other proteins—vital information if you want to know how the genetic code locked in our cells ends up constructing and maintaining a fully functioning human being (Time 2001). They also have the complicated task of finding out what the letters mean and what they do. If a gene has an error it causes a disease and they still have to identify what caused the error and triggered the disease. Even when they finish they will have a genome full of holes, no matter how hard sequencers try the gaps will stubbornly refuse to show their secrets. The first chromosome to be completed has about three percent that is not readable and the...

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