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Human Genome Project Featured

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The Human Genome Project was an international collaborative research whose main goal was to map all genes of human beings. The project was the height of years of genetic research and its goals included sequencing the human genome, identifying human being genes, mapping variations across human genomes and sequencing genomes of mouse and other “model organisms.” The project was run by the national Institute of Health and the U.S Department of Energy and run from 1991 to 2003.

HGP projects revealed that there are approximately 20,500 human genes. The completed human sequence can now allow the identification of the location of these genes.  The ultimate product of the human Genome project is the detailed information about the structure, organization and function of complete sets of human genes.  

Cloning is the creation of identical copy of something.  Although the first clone was done in 1959, the cloning of Dolly the break of 21st century marked a significant development in cloning science.  Human cloning is classified into therapeutic and reproductive cloning. Therapeutic cloning involves creating body parts or organs that genetically match to existing human while reproductive cloning involves the creating genetically identical copy of an existing human.

Some of the practical application of clonic technology in the health care includes assisted reproduction such as the use of in-vitro fertilizations, donor eggs and sperms and surrogate mothers.  The technology has potential applications in tissue donation.  It can be used to create a person with tissue immunology matched to an existing individual. The main ethical issue surrounding cloning focuses on human cloning although some groups have explored ethical issues in animal cloning.  According to the America Medical association, the potential harm of human cloning outweighs the potential benefits.  According to the Catholic Church and the Church of England, the increased scientific possibilities call for the need to have a ban on reproductive human cloning. The church argues that the technology leaves the door open to nonconformist scientists to abuse the technology for their personal ends.  The church beliefs that life is a gift from God and human should not act as God.

Gene therapy is an advanced biomedical field that is aimed at repairing causes of genetic diseases in the DNA.  It involves the administration of live whole cells of a specific population in a patient for the treatment of a genetic disease. The discovery of recombinant DNA provided tools to develop gene therapy.  Scientists use this technology to manipulate viral genomes, isolate genes, identify mutations that cause diseases, characterize and regulate gene expression and engineer specific viral and non-viral vectors.  The development of gene therapy has faced many challenges. However, several diseases have been treated through a combination of gene and cell therapy.   Research indicates that gene therapy can be used in the treatment of cancer, eye disorders and other immunodeficiency diseases. Although gene therapy is relatively uncontroversial, some issues remain unresolved such as the extensive ban of gene therapy.   In addition, there have been questions on how to distinguish good and bad gene therapy, who decides which traits are normal, and should humans use gene therapy to augment basic human characteristics.

Human stem cell research is another controversial field in biomedicine.  Stem cell research offers promising future treatment therapies, but numerous technical and ethical hurdles remain to be overcome.  Stem cell research is expected to give information on human development.   It can be used to generate cells and tissues to be used in cell-based therapies.  Current stem cell procedures provide effective treatments for Leukemia, lymphoma and other tumor conditions.

References

Loring F & Suzanne (2012). Human Stem Cell manual. Elsevier, Waltham, USA.

Ermak G (2007). Modern science and future medicine.

Sherlock R & Morrey D (). Ethical Issues in biotechnology. Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Maryland, USA. 

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