The Humane Genome Project
This enormous task will require the expertise and creativity of tens of thousands of scientists from varied disciplines in both the public and private sectors worldwide.
The draft sequence already is having an impact on finding genes associated with disease. A number of genes have been pinpointed and associated with breast cancer, muscle disease, deafness, and blindness. Additionally, finding the DNA sequences underlying such common diseases as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancers is being aided by the human variation maps generated in the HGP in cooperation with the private sector. These genes provide focused targets for the development of effective new therapies.
One of the greatest impacts of having the sequence may well is in enabling an entirely new approach to biological research. In the past, researchers studied one or a few genes at a time. With whole-genome sequences and new high-throughput technologies, they can approach questions systematically and on a grand scale. They can study all the genes in a genome, for example, or all the transcripts in a particular tissue or organ or tumour, or how tens of thousands of genes and proteins work together in interconnected networks to arrange the chemistry of life.
Designer babies - the ethics
Will future humans have animal genes added to them to give them superhuman abilities? It could happen. Human genes have been engineered into animals for years. We already have some control over the genetic make up of our children. There is fierce debate over the moral issues surrounding genetic screening and genetic modification in humans. Where should we draw the line?
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