Benefits and Limitations of The Human Genome Project (HGP)

Subject: Health Care
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1393
Topics: Medicine, Ethics, Medical Ethics

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was launched in 1990, as a human genetic mapping project, which sought to sequence all the human genes, thereby coming up with a blueprint of the genetic component that is used to make human beings (NIH, n.p.). The US government developed the initiative for a possible gene mapping of the human genes in 1984 from a series of scientific workshops that explored the possibility of this undertaking. Thus, in 1990, following the gist of different scientific papers which written on the possible benefits of The Human Genome Project in addressing human health challenges such as cancers (Dulbecco, 1057). The project was intended to extend for a period of 15 years spanning 1990-2005, but the project was declared complete in 2003, although a similar project by the private sector that was launched in 1998 continued (, n.p.). The U.S. was the major party in the frontline of commissioning the project, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) providing the bulk of the funding, while other international organizations also supported the initiative. Thus, through the effort of the international community scientific collaboration, The Human Genome Project was undertaken in the research centers and universities of different countries that included U.S., UK, China, France, Canada, Germany and Japan, and successfully completed (, n.p.). While The Human Genome Project has been hailed as the ambitious and exploratory initiative of the international scientific community thus far, the project has raised different concerns regarding its ethicalness and morality, especially in relation to the violation of fundamental human rights (Amani and Coombe, 152). Nevertheless, The Human Genome has been beneficial in many ways, despite some ethical debates providing the contrary. 

The major reason for the incubation and subsequent commissioning of The Human Genome Project (HGP) was the possible benefits that initiative held for humans, especially in relation to addressing major human health challenges such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other serious neurodegenerative diseases (Balaram, 991). Through the successful completion of The Human Genome Project genetic mapping, various health benefits have been created. For example, since the genetic mapping was completed, scientists and medical researchers have been able to research and identify the genetic causes of various serious diseases, which include the colon cancer, breast cancer Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome (Long, n.p.). The discovery of the causes of these serious health conditions has brought about numerous health benefits in the global society, since it is now easy to treat and manage such genetic health conditions (NIH, n.p.). The fundamental benefit of The Human Genome Project to the global health system is that it has enabled accurate and knowledgeable treatment of very serious health conditions, which traditionally have been treated in terms of symptoms, without addressing the underlying root causes (, n.p.).  

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The other major benefit of The Human Genome Project is that it has brought about a revolution of the medical field globally. The successful completion of The Human Genome Project has led to the rise of new therapeutic treatments and techniques, the rise of new regimes of effective drugs as well as the rise of new immunization therapies and techniques for serious human disease, which did not exist before (Long, n.p.). In addition, following the successful human genetic sequencing and mapping, medical researchers have not only been able to treat serious health conditions, but also to identify the environmental risk factors underlying such diseases (Dulbecco, 1057). For example, it has now been possible for the medical fraternity to define the environmental risk factors associated with medical conditions such as diabetes, cancers and obesity, which either triggers the onset or accelerated the progression of these human diseases (Long, n.p.). The completion of The Human Genome Project bought about about the benefit of enabling medical researchers and scientists discover how the interaction of the genetic factors with the environmental factors causes or accelerate diseases (, n.p.). Since then, the medical fraternity is now able to treat and recommend the appropriate environmental conditions for patients suffering from the major human diseases, which reduces the risks of the disease becoming fatal. 

Nevertheless, several concerns have been raised about the value of The Human Genome Project. The project has been termed unethical and immoral, especially due to the use of the human subjects in the gene tests that were undertaken during the project (NIH, n.p.). Further, The Human Genome Project has been termed immoral, because it has resulted in the issue of the scientists patenting certain aspects of the human genetic sequencing, which some sections of the society, most especially the conservative and the religious society, holding the view that no human should have the legal right to own any aspect of another human body, even as minute as genetics (Balaram, 992). Additionally, The Human Genome Project has also been associated with the issue of massive violations of human rights, considering that the project has resulted in the breach of privacy of most individuals who were involved in the project, as well as resulting to more present privacy violations of the patients’ medical records (NIH, n.p.).

Nevertheless, these arguments are countered by the fact that the completion of The Human Genome Project has not only been beneficial to the medical fraternity, but also to other fields of profession such as the crime investigation fields, food science and botanical science fields. This is because, following the successful genetic mapping of the project, it is now possible to identify the potential crime suspects, based on matching their DNA with the traces left at the crime scene (Long, n.p.). The completion of the genetic mapping has also aided in the discovery of different bacteria, viruses and other types of organisms affecting the human health, food, animals and even plants (Long, n.p.).

More fundamentally, the successful completion of the human genetic mapping brought about by The Human Genome Project has brought about significant medical inventions and innovations that could not have been predicted in the past centuries.  The major medical inventions arising from the successful gene mapping created by The Human Genome Project is that it is now possible for the medical fraternity to augment or even replace defective genes causing certain diseases (, n.p.). The rise of therapies for treating different types of cancer such as physiotherapies and chemotherapies has come about as a result of the medical inventions informed by the completion of The Human Genome Project. Consequently, it is now possible for the medical fraternity to treat the diseases through the chemical or mechanical of the defective genes that accelerates the diseases. On the other hand, more innovative medical technologies resulting from the successful human gene mapping created by the completion of The Human Genome Project include the complete removal and replacement of defective genes from the body, through such medical procedures such as bone marrow transplant (Long, n.p.).

Further, the successful completion of The Human Genome Project has resulted in the rise of specialized treatments, which were not possible before the full genetic mapping accomplished by the project was done (Amani and Coombe, 177). Following the completion of The Human Genome Project, scientists gained the knowledge that the genetic makeup of different individuals is different and differs based on certain factors (Long, n.p.). The completion of the full genetic mapping of the human genes has made the scientists discover that different individuals are vulnerable and more prone to certain diseases, health conditions and risks than others, by the virtue of their genetic types (NIH, n.p.). Armed with this knowledge, it has now become possible for the medical fraternity and the scientists to recommend different types of treatments that are specialized and customized to the different types of the genetic makeup of individuals (, n.p.). 

In conclusion, The Human Genome Project has generated many benefits to humanity, which cannot be ignored. The project was started in 1990 and completed in 2003, and since then, numerous medical benefits as well as other non-medical benefits have been realized from the successful genetic mapping that was created by The Human Genome Project. There are certain concerns about the value of The Human Genome Project and more concerns about its ethical and moral standing occasioned by issues such human privacy violations and the lack of ethicalness of patenting of human beings bodily components. Nevertheless, the benefits of the project, especially in the treatment of serious human diseases such as cancers are very necessary. 

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  1. Amani, Bita and Rosemary J. Coombe. “The Human Genome Diversity Project: The Politics of Patents at the Intersection of Race, Religion, and Research Ethics.” Law & Policy, vol. 27, no. 1, Jan. 2005, pp. 152-188.
  2. Balaram, P. “The Human Genome: Dividends After a Decade.” Current Science (00113891), vol. 98, no. 8, 25 Apr. 2010, pp. 991-992.
  3. Dulbecco, Renato. “Turning Point in Cancer Research, Sequencing the Human Genome”. Science, 231.4742: (1986), 1055–1056. 
  4. ” The Human Genome Project Completion: Frequently Asked Questions”, 2017. Web. April 9, 2017 <>
  5. Long, Wong H. “Benefits of Human Genome Project”, 2017. Web. April 9, 2017 <>
  6. National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Genomic Medicine”, January 18, 2017. Web. April 9, 2017 <>
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