All About The Human Genome Project

Human anatomy has been subject to intensive research for so many years. Every passing year there is something added to the vast ocean of data collected about the nature and facts about human body. Human Genome Project is one such concentrated study that had been undertaken in October 1990 and was carried on until 2003. These complete 13 years of rigorous research has made an unmatched contribution to the human kind.

Human Genome Project was coordinated by the US Department of Energy and the National Institute of Health. When the project was still in its initial phase, the Welcome Trust (UK) became a major partner in this venture, later bringing contributions from Japan, France, Germany, China, and few more countries. Ari Patrinos, head of the office of Biological & Environmental Research was the chief director of this research program.

The main goals of the project were,

  • Classification of around 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the human DNA
  • Establishment of the sequence of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make human DNA
  • Storage of this information in a database
  • Improvisation of the tools for data analysis
  • Transferring of the related technologies to the private sector
  • Addressing the ethical, legal, and social issues that may arise from the project

Human Genome Project was considered to be an expensive task, since sequencing patients’ whole genomes was far too intricate and costly affair. Therefore, a new theory was employed to cut down the expenses, by considering only those sites on the genome, where many people have a variant DNA unit. The idea behind this was that since the major diseases are common, so too would be the genetic variants that caused them. The Human Genome Project is considered a mega project, because the human genome has approximately 3.3 billion base-pairs, and in the project the genome was broken into 150,000 base-pairs in length.

In this project the blood samples for the research were collected from both, male and female donors, however only few of many collected samples were actually processed as DNA resources. The donor identities were strictly protected so neither the donors nor the scientist would know whose DNA was sequenced. The interesting part of Human Genome Project is that much of the DNA for this research came from a single anonymous male donor from Buffalo, New York.

The findings of this project are very interesting. This research established few facts, including that the average human gene consists 3000 base pairs, but sizes vary greatly. The human genome sequence is almost exactly the same (99.9%) in all people. However, the functions of more than 50% discovered gens are still unknown.

Nevertheless, few things still remain unexplored, like exact genes number, their locations, function, etc.  For many such unidentified mysteries post-sequencing projects are undertaken worldwide. If these projects are successful, they will reveal comprehensive understanding of complex living systems, with application to human health, energy, agriculture, global climate change, and environmental remediation, amongst others.

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