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Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “The Human Genome Project ” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

The Human Genome Project 

The Human Genome Project launched in 1990 is biology’s first large science project and is planned with an outlay of three billion dollars and an international collaboration involving 18 countries and 250 laboratories. The main aim of the project is to create a map of the entire set of genes (genome) in the human cell by decoding three billion units or base pairs (bp) of the human D.N.A. The genome is called the book of life. Its full interpretation will provide the ultimate answers to the questions of human organs and how we function as healthy human beings. In the immediate context the information will lead to a better understanding of the course of gene associated diseases and help physicians to design better strategies to cure them.

The Early Story of Sequencing—In 1944 it was demonstrated by scientists that DNA is the genetic material. Scientist Arthur Komburgsynthesised the DNA in vitro; Robert Holley determined the sequence of 77 based long gene and Har Gobind Khurana synthesised functional gene. These were time consuming and laborious exercises. Holly took years to determine the base sequence of a small gene and Khurana with twenty four of his colleagues spent nine years to assemble a 227 base long gene; the isolation and sequencing of genes gained momentum after the discovery of restriction enzymes. The mapping of human genome which is distributed over 24 types (23 x and 1 y) of chromosomes is an enormous and difficult task. By 1985, James Watson and several of the leading molecular biologists realised that existing arrangements of sequencing by small groups of researcher, each working at a different pace could not accomplish the construction of the 3 billion base pair long human genome.

Enter Craig Venter-Human genome map would have taken its leisurely course but for Craig Venter who recognised the importance of the role of automatic sequence in decoding. Venter purchased a sequencer machine whereby decoding became faster and within year he decoded 10000 base pairs of the human genome.

By 1991 Venter identified 347 genes and his officers wanted to patent them. Soon Fianis Collins, distinguished researcher, took over as director and has been guiding the project with diplomacy and devotion. Craig Venter also left the NITT and formed his own outfit the institute of Genome Research.

Hamilton Smith and Restriction Enzymes—Craig Venter was randomly sampling and sequencing gene when he met Hamilton Smith, a Nobel

Laureate from John Hopkins Universaty who was working in bacterial genetic. He noticed that some bacterial extracts that had the ability to breakdown viral DNA act as biological scissors and are known as restrictions enzymes. Smiths discovery led to easier isolation of Genome and the rise of genetic engineering.

Shotgun Sequencing—The shotgun sequencing method, as it is called goes straight to the job of decoding. Venter’s Challenge produced immediate reactions in HGP camps FranisCollus set new goals and a new five year plan for 1998-2003 was formulated.

The Race—HGP further advanced the date for the working draft of the genome map by German and Japanese researchers published the entire sequence of chromosome 21. Similarly the atmosphere in Venter’s camp also heated up in Jan 200, Celera announced completion of 90% of human genome and in April 200 they announced the completion of rough sequencing of the human genome of one individual. Finally the draft map was published on 26th June 2000. Collins and Venter praised each other’s achievements and the entire world acclaimed the genome leaders for the discovery.

The Result—The draft map is ready but sequencing of the basis is only a first step. Even this first step is not completely taken. Only 97% of the genome is sequenced. The rest is considered to be unsequenceable and irrelevant.

A more important challenge is the annotation of the sequenced text. This involves characterization of all the genes and working out their functions. All the protein coding areas of the genome have to be identified to get a good idea of the number of genes. At the moment the estimates vary from 35000 to 150000.

Celera has determined the genetic code of five individuals, three females and two males. They include Hispanic, Asian, African and Caucasian origin. The objective was to determine whether race has any genetic or scientific basis. The analysis only reinforced what we already know. We are all the member of the same population whereas as individuals we are unique.

Benefits—The incomplete data that is available is useful to the physicians to derive exquisitely sensitive tests and guide the pharmaceutical companies to design drug tailored to the genetic profile of individual patients.

 Genome Map, Genetic Counselling and Germalin Gene Therapy (Prediction and prevention). In the immediate future, the practical way to use the new technology will be related to genetic screening and counselling. From the genome of the patients, doctors will be able to find out flaws in thegenes which immediately or at some future date may flare up as genetic disease. In some cases, the knowledge will lead to treatments that delay the onset of the disease or soften its effects. However in other cases nothing could be done to counter the savages of genetic mutations unless of course, gene therapy becomes accessible to the common man. But many diseases will take decades to be conquered.

Therein lies the dilemma that is exposed by genetic knowledge. Would people want to know about genetic defects that can not be rectified by available therapy.

Gene therapy has the potential to give life long cure to the individual but not to his descendents. To eradicate the threat of genetic disease to the successor the defective gene has to be removed. Such interventions would change the gene pool of the entire human species and future generations have to live with that change.

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