The human genome project

The human genome project began in 1990. It had an initial duration perspective of fifteen years, but before that it was possible to complete the information that was sought. In 2003 the group of researchers in charge declared that they had completely deciphered human genetic information.

The initiative could be classified as the greatest research in history. The budget that was available and the number of different countries involved make it a unique historical fact.

The research lines were drawn up through the formation of an international public consortium between the United States, Japan, China, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and other countries. The base of the initial budget was three billion dollars.

Along with the initiative and the scientific knowledge involved, the human genome project was made possible by the development of bioinformatics. Thanks to advances in the treatment of biological information through computers capable of assembling millions of DNA data (deoxyribonucleic acid), it was possible to reach a successful conclusion.

In summary, the human genome project had the following objectives:

  • Identify all the genes that make up human DNA.
  • Save all the information obtained.
  • Develop ways and techniques of analyzing DNA data.
  • Establish the legal and ethical scope of the use of genetic information.

Impact of the human genome project

Obtain all the genetic information of our species It represents very great repercussions for humanity, both scientifically and ethically. And we cannot underestimate the legal repercussions of the possession of such information.

In scientific terms, DNA information is invaluable. The door opens for the cure of diseases that were previously impossible to treat. There is even a space to think about prevention in genetic terms, acting before the onset of the disease.

From the ethical point of view the issue of genetic manipulation. If the human species knows all of its DNA information, then it is capable of being modified through artificial processes. The limits of the natural and the provoked are erased. It is a powerful knowledge to be well and misused.

Finally, from the legal point of view the legislative impact is interesting. Laws that regulate the use of human genome project information must be passed. The DNA of each human being can be a reason for discrimination, since it is possible to know in advance who will have disabilities or alterations in the not too distant future.

Genetic engineering would allow repairing damaged DNA segments.

You may be interested: What is epigenetics?

Medical applications of the human genome project

The human genome project is shocking news for the medical world. The possibilities of influencing situations that were once a mystery are fabulous. We comment on the most relevant application lines so far:

  • Cancer: With the knowledge of DNA it is possible to decipher the mechanisms that unleash the uncontrolled growth of neoplastic cells. The branch known as genetic engineering would be able to repair defective genes to prevent disease.
  • Prenatal: One of the great applications of the human genome project is fetal analysis in a pregnancy. It will be possible to know, before birth, all the genetic conformation of a baby, even predicting what diseases it will develop.
  • Adverse effects of medications: With the information of the human DNA it would be possible to carry out drug tests in a virtual way, before its launch and use in humans, to detect possible adverse effects. This would allow refining and improving medications before having them available in the market.
  • Daily Clinic: Also in the office there is application for this information. With the patient's DNA in hand, doctors could establish the tendencies that the person has to get sick in the short or medium term. Action plans could be diagrammed to reduce or avoid widespread diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Rare diseases: The complex list of low incidence pathologies, that is, affecting very few people, benefits from genetic information. Most of these diseases are related to DNA alterations. They could be specifically prevented or treated.

In the daily office doctors can apply knowledge of the human genome to identify and treat diseases.

Keep informing yourself: What are the rarest diseases in the world

Ethical issues

Several authors have warned since the beginning of the human genome project that it is a double-edged sword. It is as much a wonder of scientific advances as a bridge to perverse individual and business practices.

Only in the United States A large part of the project budget has been dedicated to finance scientific studies on ethical issues around human genetics. We can intuit, then, that worry exists.

Knowing all the genetic information of the human species and developing techniques for manipulation could set a normality. That is to say, it could tend to define what human is normal according to genetic and what human is not, even with the risk of declaring him as a non-human.

Insurance companies may also access that information to deny coverage. to a person who is genetically at greater risk of becoming ill in the future. Or you could deny a job following the same logic. Even denying access to education on the premise that genetically such a child or youth will not be fit.

In conclusion

We are facing a new era that has inaugurated the world of genetics. Like all scientific advances from before and now, clear rules for its management and a dose of humanity are needed. The human genome project cannot become a business but, on the contrary, an opportunity to make us more human.