Scientists are taking medical technology to new heights as they race to map all of the genes, nearly 100,000, in the 23 chromosomes of the human body. Along the way, they hope to develop methods of treating certain genetic diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's Disease. They plan to do this by identifying the DNA sequence of an abnormal gene in which a disease originates and comparing it with the data of a normal or healthy gene. The entire research project is entitled "The Human Genome Project." (Unknown, June 2003).
The Human Genome Project is a 13-year effort started in 1990. It is a large scale project being conducted by more than 200 laboratories, put together by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. Most of these labs are located in France, and the United States. It was originally planned to last 15 years, but with rapid advances in technology, its now expected to be completed in 2003. (Unknown, June 2003).
The goals of this project are to: Identify all of the human genes in human DNA, determine the sequences of 3 billion base pairs in human DNA, store info in a database, improve tools for analysis, and address ethical, legal, and social issues that will arise from this project. .
The Human Genome Project also includes efforts to characterize and sequence the entire genome of several other organisms. Identification of the sequence or function of genes in a model organism is an important approach to finding and elucidating the function of human genes. To help the research along, researchers are also studying the genetic make-up of: human gut bacterium Escherichia coli, fruit flies, and laboratory mice. (Unknown, June 2003).
The Human Genome Project is going to produce a sequence of DNA that will represent the functional blueprint and evolutionary history of humans. Though, only about 3% of this sequence is thought to specify the portions of our 30,000 genes that encode proteins.