The Human Genome Project

Subject: Science
Type: Evaluation Essay
Pages: 10
Word count: 2510
Topics: Biology, Ethics, Genetics, Medical Ethics, Medicine


There has been a worldwide research geared towards discovering more facts about the sequence of the DNA. Besides, the research also aims at finding out the location of all genes in human beings. The Human Genome Project was started in 1990, and as opposed to the initial idea of having it for 15 years, it only took 13 years. This was a vigorous project that had to scrutinize more than 3 billion chemical bases in the human DNA. The knowledge generated from the project will be of great significance to fields such as neurobiology.  This field has scientists who for a long time wished to comprehend the mechanism of molecular biology. An in-depth analysis of the project reveals that the project will be of utmost importance in the field of medical science. Many of the genetic diseases that are unknown to the medical practitioners will be unlocked and the reducing the threat to human beings. Alongside, the mystery behind the various multifunctional illnesses made difficult by the genetic predisposition will be revealed. 

To make the project a success, a number of companies and governments had to pull the resources together. To draw the attention of these parties, a greater emphasis had been placed on the need to have a major goal which was a way of avoiding getting derailed along the way.  Animals would also be used for the extensive researches to be done in the laboratories. Despite getting approval, the project has come under deep criticism from other sections of scholars who are concerned about the ethical issues. This argument is centrally based on the need to have a perfect race that might be realized through the engineering.  Once the researchers succeed in reading the DNA, then it implies the ability to write one of their own is take a notch higher.

At the initial stages of the project, a plan had to be developed to get a direction on what was to be accomplished and at what time. As a result, a five-year plan was developed and floated to each department. However, as a result of the inconveniences of the first plan, a new one had to be generated in 1990. The greatest problem with the former was being ahead of schedule and lacking sufficient knowledge of what was to be unearthed.  A number of new discoveries had however been made. These include the discovery of new genetic makers like microsatellites, a new understanding of the Sequence Tagged Site and new improvements on the automation for the DNA sequencing.  

Genome Sequencing  

The field of genome sequencing is now under the genome sequencing. This integration is brightening the human life through the discovery of new dimensions of approaching the health issues. One of the remarkable progress that was made on the gene sequencing was the publication of the genome sequencing for the Haemophilus influenza bacteria. Despite the fact that there were previous discoveries on the genomes of other viruses, the one, in this case, was a unique one. The uniqueness of the case was that the bacteria was the first living organism to undergo the genome sequencing (Behrouzi 1345-1351). For this reason, the exercise is considered as a major milestone that paved the way for more than ten organisms that would be sequenced within a short period. These include the Mycoplasma genitalium, Mycoplasma pneumonia, and Methanococcuss jannaschii among others. These discoveries were crucial in getting a deeper understanding of the specimens under use and the number of genes that make up an organism that can be considered as free living. 

Among the organisms that had their genes sequenced after the remarkable discovery was the Mycoplasma genitalium which had amazing revelations. The organism had a nucleotide sequence that was complete with just 580 070 base pairs (Eisenstein 117-121). This has remained to be the smallest genome of any living organism on earth. As a result of the small size, researchers have since then geared their efforts towards comprehending the minimal gene set necessary for functioning. These discoveries further triggered the interest of getting a profound grasp on the microbial pathogens that had proved to be problematic.  More efforts are currently being directed towards the development of molecular diagnostics and getting a guide to the nature of the organisms.

The whole genome sequencing is a technical process in which the researchers have to fully dedicate themselves for a promising outcome. Here, they DNA samples and later delve into the 3 billion nucleotides which make up the human genome. Since the beginning of the genome sequencing process, the first exercise on human beings was done in 2003 under the auspices of the Human Genome Project (Long et al. 568-578).  The technology used for sequencing is considered to be more effective, and the process can be done in a few days. The modern genetic testing lays emphasis on a number of genes instead of the whole genome. The process was initially costly, but with the reduction in price, people have opted to pursue the option. From such a decision, a physician is made to look at the whole genome and determine the effects of some diseases on their genetic make-up. A good example would be conducting tests on the whole genome responsible for the metabolism of drugs before making a decision on the type of dosage to give. 

In an article that featured in the Science magazine in February 2017, biologists came to a conclusion that there is the need to sequence the DNA of all humans on earth (Pennisi 1). In Iceland, it was agreed that the whole population would have its genes studied. The same news article reported that there was a group of researchers who had announced their intention to sequence the entire life on earth.  To achieve these end, there should be sufficient funding to come up with billions of dollars required for the project. Key proponents of the idea include Harris Lewin who is an evolutionary genomicist, and a conservatist biologist called Oliver Ryder. It is, therefore, true to argue that having all the genes sequenced in the whole world is a dream that is almost coming true. Oliver emphasized on the need to embrace the genome biology in order to understand how the modern life has evolved. 

Benefits of Gene Sequencing

The gene sequencing has had a number of benefits as well as impacts to the society. The study of the various models has been key in understanding the human genome. Many benefits have become evident since the project on the human genome was established. However, there are a number of issues that have been raised regarding the negative impacts on the insurance, social issues and employment.  The issues raised have split the population into two groups, one thinks that the discovery is a lead to destruction while the proponents believe it is a leap and a great achievement for the future. From these diverging ideas, a need, therefore, arises to dig deeper into the issue and establish whether the overall impacts to the society are more negative. For this to be a success, scientists need to work hand in hand with other professionals such as lawyers and religious leaders. 

The information from the human genome project will help affected by a genetic disease to seek medication as early as possible. The identification of hereditary diseases such as retinoblastoma, cystic fibrosis, and neurofibromatosis has been beneficial to the human race. These achievements could only be made through the knowledge produced in the human genome project. When this knowledge is used wisely, genetic therapy can be developed to reduce the problems found in the genetic makeup through corrections. The possibilities of making the future brighter through the project are therefore high especially when the instructions that a single cell has are effectively mastered (Borgström et al. 17-19). This breakthrough can be of utmost importance to patients such as those suffering from diabetes. Through the genetic engineering, the chances of creating or growing insulin in large amounts are increased. These goals can be achieved in an inexpensive process that utilizes the knowledge of gene manipulation in the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Hemophilia has been a big medical problem for a long time. However, the human genome project is shedding light and creating a promising environment through the suggestion that the blood clotting agent which is missing in hemophilic patients can be created. The manner in which this knowledge on the human genome will be handled is essential to avoid benefiting the few people who occupy the upper echelons of the economic ladder.   Before performing the tests, a person should be evaluated to find out whether the discovery of genetic flaws will cause a psychological problem.  Besides, the tested individuals should be guaranteed their privacy, and the results from the tests should not be leaked out to avoid various forms of discrimination. A deeper analysis of the issue, therefore, reveals that if not controlled, the human genome project might result to a similar problem like the one witnessed as a result of failing to control the internet. 

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In March 2017, studies on the human genome made new discoveries on the variation responsible for the obesity which is evident in the Africans and the African-Americans (Mjoseth 15). The study was not only conducted in America but also in Africa to come up with objective and reliable conclusions. The study reported that people with an African ancestry have a genome variant which raises the chances of becoming obese. These findings are well presented in the Journal of Obesity which presents the findings on the obesity problem which continues to be a problematic issue in the modern era. Obesity is associated with other diseases such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension and the worst of all, heart disease. It should be noted that although obesity is associated with cultural and lifestyle decisions such as excess calorie’s intake, genome plays a major role. 

In March 2017, the BMC Biology revealed that the sequencing of the nucleic acid is a source of the cross-sample contamination (Williams 15). A need, therefore, arises for all molecular biologists to underscore the fact that there is a risk if the research materials are contaminated. This is something that was emphasized more by Cape-Davis in his contribution to “The Scientist” Magazine. Whenever species are carried together, chances of possible contamination are raised with the situation being even worse in the sample processing stage. Chances of completely facing out the contaminations are very low considering that the work is being done on molecules. 

Dangers of the Project’s Information

In some cases, the revelation of the human genome has resulted in a form of discrimination on the basis of an individual’s genetic predisposition. The insurance companies might amend the existing policies and make it mandatory for people to be undergoing the genetic tests before getting a guarantee on getting insured. The unfit people will have an unfavorable report which might end up making them losers on the coverage plans. From these facts, it is certain that the emphasis on performing the tests might result in the creation of a certain societal group which is considered as undesirable from a social lens. If the situation is not well handled, these people might eventually become societal outcasts. The effects can become detrimental to children who are easily affected on the basis of self-esteem. The natural reproduction is also likely to take a new path and become an outdated thing of the past. People will be in a position to pick a sperm and an egg with the desired traits in order to produce a child. Chances of having abortion taken to new high levels are therefore high. 

One of the important facts to be considered regarding the widening rift on the benefits that accrue is that genes do not influence the manner in which traits are physically expressed. A deeper analysis of the genome sequencing reveals that there can be a real danger in the future. For example, a section of people may opt never to get tested in their lives on whether they are carriers of certain diseases or not. On the positive side of it, getting this information is crucial in making an informed decision regarding marriage, the lifestyle and childbearing. Arming oneself with the knowledge on health is, however, paramount, and it not only benefit the people involved but also the companies and the society as a whole.

The Future of Genome Sequencing

After the achievements that have been made in the field of the human genome, one might wonder what is likely in the future and the trends that might be there. The achievements made on the genome sequencing this far are of high quality and can be considered as being comprehensive. Many scientists are now in the field of gene sequencing to engage in an activity that is likely to change the lives of the people in the future. Professionals from other fields have also left their disciplines to engage in the genome sequencing as well as scrutinize the debate on the ethical issue. Among the private and the public bodies that are looking forward to improving the ideas include the International HapMap project and the Mouse Sequencing Consortium (Lappalainen & Emmanouil 23-24). 

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A look at the nature of the data that is being generated at the moment proves there might be a problem in the future. The large amount of data produced through inexpensive processes is likely to increase in the future making it difficult to easily and effectively analyze it. If not well analyzed, there will be a problem in the interpretation of the results that will be overwhelming especially in the efforts to understand it. There should also be good measures in the integration of the knowledge of human genome in fields such as medicine which was initially a difficult process. A good solution to handle the large amounts of data produced would be to make it compulsory for the scientists as well as the healthcare professionals to be well versed with the knowledge of bioinformatics. Professionals from other fields such as mathematics should also be made part of the project in the future to make the analysis of the large amount of data to be a success (Evans 22). The future, therefore, calls for the incorporation of the smart people who will be beneficial to the research area. 

Conclusively, the Human Genome Project was a remarkable idea in the history of mankind. The knowledge in genome sequencing was generated from the project and has revolutionized the field of biology. Although there are a number of complaints that the research is unethical and causes more harm to the society, a deeper scrutiny on the debate reveals that the pros outdo the cons. However, as further advancements continue to be made in the field, there should be regulatory measures to ensure that any proposed idea is for the good of the human race. Such regulatory frameworks will provide a good guide that for the future endeavors which will make further discoveries to be embraced by many in the population.

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  1. Behrouzi, Ava, et al. “Evaluation of the immunogenic property of NT H. influenzae protein D with Neisseria meningitidis OMV in BALB/c.” The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries 10.12 (2016): 1345-1351. 
  2. Borgström, Erik, et al. “Comparison of whole genome amplification techniques for human single cell exome sequencing.” PLoS One 12.2 (2017): 17-19.
  3. Eisenstein, Michael. “Pursuing the simple life.” Nature Methods 14.2 (2017): 117-121.
  4. Evans, Barbara J. “The Evolving Challenge in Genomic Science.” Scitech Lawyer 13.1 (2016): 22.
  5. Lappalainen, Tuuli, and Emmanouil T. Dermitzakis. “Genomics in the center of biology and biomedicine.” (2017): 23-24.
  6. Long, Tao, et al. “Whole-genome sequencing identifies common-to-rare variants associated with human blood metabolites.” Nature Genetics 49.4 (2017): 568-578.
  7. Mjoseth, Jeannine. “2017 News Release: Study Identifies African-Specific Genomic Variant Associated With Obesity”. National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). N.p., 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
  8. Pennisi, Elizabeth. “Biologists Propose To Sequence The DNA Of All Life On Earth”. Science | AAAS. N.p., 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
  9. Williams, Ruth. “Cross-Sample Sequencing Contamination Galore | the Scientist Magazine®”. The Scientist. N.p., 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
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