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The Human Genome can personalize your medicine

By Edited Jun 10, 2016 0 0

The Human Genome Project was started on 26th June 2000. The multi billion dollar project had the aim of mapping the DNA sequence of a human being. Sort of a blue print of a human being. The double helix structure of the DNA still hid secrets and it was the task of the Human Genome Project scientists to unmask these.

It turned out to be a race between two groups of scientists as they tried to get the sequencing done first. One was a private biotechnology company led by Craig Venter and the other was a public consortium led by Francis Collins. There was the promise of a leap in medical diagnosis and treatments after the genes were sequenced.

Unfortunately the potential of the Human Genome is yet to come into its own. The effect on clinical medicine has been hardly anything. It has become easier to say what diseases a person may be prone to when you see the gene variations in his genome but there is not yet the technology or medication available for many diseases.

The Human Genome Sequencing is now not as expensive as it was a decade ago. The improvements in technology have resulted in a human gene sequencing costing just about $5000 now. Unfortunately the data that you get is huge and to make sense of it does take a long time.

Many people have criticized the project and said that the expense was perhaps not worth it. However both Collins, and Venter along with other scientists involved in genetic research have defended the relatively modest success that has been seen by the Human Genome in revolutionizing modern medicine.

"Some powerful new drugs have been developed for some cancers; genetic tests can predict whether people with breast cancer need chemotherapy; the major risk factors of macular degeneration [an eye disease] have been identified; and drug response can be predicted for more than a dozen drugs. But it is fair to say that the Human Genome Project has not yet directly affected the health care of most individuals." said Collins.

"The Human Genome Project (HGP) was funded with three billion dollars, or roughly a dollar for every base pair, or rung in the genetic ladder, and took 10 years to produce the rough draft, which was followed by a "polished" version in 2003." said Venter.

How long do we need to wait before the Human Genome is no longer an experimental device but a great tool which can diagnose and cure you of diseases? It may not be very long as there have already been a number of advances based on the human genome.

Cancers of various kinds are being studied worldwide in terms of genetic variations. It is now possible to predict who has a mutant gene which may cause cancer in the future. There is also the possibility of choosing the right drug for chemotherapy which will not have an adverse reaction to the patient based on the genetic map.

Obesity is being linked to the risk of Alzheimer's disease in Americans of European origin thanks to the FTO gene. Genetic tests based on a blood test may soon replace the frequent and invasive biopsies that a person who under goes an organ transplantation must go through to check if the organ is being rejected by the body.

Yes there is a lot that the human genome has already given us and the data needs to be analyzed to reveal more secrets of health as time goes by. Diligence and patience will see the Human Genome become the blueprint to better health care techniques worldwide.
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