“You look just like your Aunt Sarah.”
“You’re the spitting image of Grandpa Fred.”
“You inherited the Smith nose.”
If you’ve ever heard comments like these, you know that the way you look has something to do with the way your relatives look. Through the generations, traits have been continuously passed down through the combination of an egg cell and sperm cell. All of your physical traits are coded in your genes which are located on the chromosomes in the nucleus of each of your approximately 60 trillion cells.
Studies indicate that each human being has approximately 25,000 genes. The Human Genome Project completed its mapping of the human genome in 2003. The goals of the project were to:
- Identify all the genes in human DNA
- Determine the sequence of the chemical pairs of DNA
- Store the information in databases
- Improve tools for data analysis
- Transfer technologies to the private sector
- Address ethical, legal and social issues that may arise from the project
Scientists hope that this mapping of the human genome will allow for breakthroughs in medical technology as specific genes are located for such diseases as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
What ethical issues do you think may arise from the Human Genome Project? Are the potential medical breakthroughs worth any challenges that may arise? Other than potential for curing disease, what else might this information be used for?