Life Science / Biology Essay

The Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project, as the name fully suggests, was a joint worldwide 13-year scientific project that purposefully focused on discovering, identifying, and sequencing all the DNA contents of the human chromosomes (collectively known as the human genome) (National Human Genome Research Institute, 2018). The primary goal of this project was to fully and accurately sequence all the DNA base pairs that constitute the genome of humans. It was also aimed at discovering and totally identifying individual locations for the main segments of the human genes and, consequently, creating what is referred to as “linkage maps” which are traces that can be used to connect traits and genetic variations through generation to generation (NHGRI, 2018).

In this article, our focus shall be on this project, with the primary objective to fully understand what the goals of the project are.

In addition, the impact this project has also made in the world of scientific research, especially in revealing the number of human genes and creating genetic maps that can be used in tracing and linking genetic variations over different generations (Tripp & Grueber, 2011), will also be examined.

As mentioned earlier, The Human Genome Project is one that mainly concerned itself with the discovery and identification of the genetic makeup of the human genome. This joint international project began in 1990 and lasted for about 13 years.

It involved a number of scientists from different countries (with the United States leading the force). And, for this publicly funded project to be ultimately successful, the group of scientists involved was invited, from different disciplines (physicists, biologists, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, and chemists), to join in to make it seamlessly possible for the project to empirically establish and sequence all the 3 billion DNA base pairs that were eventually identified in the human genome (Tripp & Grueber, 2011).

Upon completion in 2003, the project was only able to successfully classify all the DNA contents that constitute the euchromatic section of the human genes, and this is said to form about 92.1% of the whole human genome. The heterochromatic, which is the name for the other sections of the human genome that are located in the telomeres and centromeres, we're unable to be classified under the Genome Project of 1990.

Goals of the Project

When this project was set up, it was mainly for the scrupulous identification and classification of the DNA base pairs (about 3 billion in all) that constitute the human genome. In addition, the project was also aimed at discovering all the human chromosomes – an estimate of about 20,000 to 25,000.

This project was not only focused entirely on the human genome alone, but it was also targeted at classifying the genomes of “model organisms” (Davis, 2004; Tripp & Grueber, 2011), like mice and worms, that have a rather direct bearing on the general field of medical research. This served as a test run for the project; this is to ensure the better capturing of the more complex system of the human genome (Chial, 2008).

In addition, it was also aimed at building physical and generic maps – linking maps – that can help scientists in the generation and analyses of the different DNA sequences. This has inexorably helped scientists to link and trace traits in the human genome over generations (Chial, 2008; NHGRI, 2018).

Impact of the Project

The Human Genome Project was able to reveal that there are different human genes; up to 20,500. And this revelation or discovery (as people may want to describe it) has created a foundational resource for getting data on the design and functions of the whole human genome system.

When the result of this scientific project was first released in 2001, it was discovered that the previous estimate on the number of human genes was significantly higher than the number the project was able to successfully identify.

The result of this project can also be viewed as a reference point for people in different disciplines. It has made a transformative contribution to medical research and unequivocally helped scientists to develop better treatment methods in studying and knocking out different diseases. Without reservation, the genome project has also helped scientists to better understand diseases, their outcomes or effects, and also to develop the appropriate treatment methods (basically based on genotyping) that can be adopted for combating certain diseases.

Besides the huge scientific advancement it has made, especially in the field of biology, the genome project has also, invariably helped in the tracking and identification of natural variations in human capabilities, so as to be able to help improve the application of treatment methods in solving the medical, agricultural, technological, environmental and biological challenges that we're faced with (U.S Department of Energy Genome, 2011).

The genome project was also a significant technological invention that has significant economic impacts too. It has raised the rate of employment and also made huge investments in the economy of the United States (Tripp & Grueber, 2011).

Not only was the genome project a remarkable achievement in history, but it has also been able to scientifically shape (or reshape) the understanding of human life. Likewise, it has also helped in forensics; particularly to track criminals.

In addition, the genome project has been useful in a lot of other related fields, especially in the field of anthropology where biological mutations are studied and lineages are traced over generations (U.S Department of Energy GenomeThe Human Genome Project, 2009).

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