Genetic Testing Human Genome

In April 2003, scientists completed The Human Genome Project. The goal of this amazing project was to put together a map of every genome in the human organism. A genome is defined as an entity including all DNA that makes up an organism. Started in 1990, over the course of a mere 13 years, scientists from all over the world were able to collaborate and identify approximately 20,000 genes in the human body. This article will delve more deeply into the Human Genome Project (HGP), its significance, and the effects it has had on genetics and other health fields, including disease research.

Genomes and the Human Genome Project

Every human being is made up of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, which contains genetic instructions on how the organism is composed. This material contains genes, each of which has a specific purpose. Some genes determine the color of your hair and eyes, while other can have more important purposes, such as determining whether or not you are at risk for breast cancer or diabetes. The Human Genome Project set out to create a “map” which showed the specific order of each gene in the human body. The first map was published in 2001, and the final report was announced in April of 2003.

The Human Genome Project and Genetics

Genetics is the study of heredity, and how the cellular makeup of our relatives affects our own. Therefore, the relationship between the Human Genome Project and genetics is rather straightforward. In addition to determine the exact sequence of genomes existing in humankind, the HGP aimed to identify each genome in the body as well as provide information on their structure and organization. As we now know the location of each gene, testing can be done in order to determine ones risk of having certain diseases.

The Human Genome Project and General Health

Considering how thorough the scientists had to be while conducting the Human Genome Project, it makes sense that medical professionals are able to trace diseases down to a specific locus, or the specific location of a gene. This has a direct correlation with the health field, because the more information the medical community is aware of, the better they are able to care for their patients. After all, the most practical application of scientific progress ultimately deals with helping to care for patients.

Human Genome Research and Disease

The more knowledge we have about the human genome, and the purpose and location of each gene or loci, the more we are able to learn about genetic diseases that can be passed down from generation to generation. For example, scientists involved in Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) have identified a loci directly related to the production of blood lipid levels in humans. High cholesterol, caused by high lipid levels, is a common perpetrator of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Being armed with this information can help a person who is at risk of these high levels to make some lifestyle changes, resulting in lower chances of suffering from heart disease.

Recent Findings in Human Genome Research

New findings and conclusions in the field of genetic research are being reached all the time. For instance, scientists have discovered over 100 loci that are related to the contraction of many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, etc. The National Human Genome Research Institutes Pamela Schwartzberg, M.D., PhD collaborated with others to even discover a protein found in the human body that inhibits the infection of HIV. The progress is astounding and will continue for years to come.

Resources

Hill, J. (2008). Research findings open new front in fight against AIDS virus. Retrieved on July 10, 2009, from the Think Gene Web site: http://www.thinkgene.com/research-findings-open-new-front-in-fight-against-aids-virus/.

Human Genome Project Information. (2009). Human Genome Project information. Retrieved on July 10, 2009, from the Human Genome Project Information Web site: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/home.shtml.

Nainggolan, L. (2008). First genome-wide Association Studies in population cohorts identify new lipid loci. Retrieved on July 10, 2009, from the The Heart Web site: http://www.theheart.org/article/927541.do.

National Human Genome Research Institute. (2008). An overview of the Human Genome Project. Retrieved on July 10, 2009, from the National Human Genome Research Institute Web site: http://www.genome.gov/12011238.

US National Library of Medicine. (2009). What did the Human Genome Project accomplish? Retrieved on July 10, 2009, from the US National Library of Medicine Web site: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/hgp/accomplishments.