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The Human Genome project and its revolutionary insight to the genetic blue print of the human body Essay


Abstract

Human genome is a contemporary scientific revolution that seeks to find the cure for serious human diseases. For many years, incurable diseases have killed many people, but the new discoveries in the cure for these diseases have given hope to those who are suffering from incurable diseases.

Human Genome sciences mainly seek to find new therapeutic ways of treating those deadly diseases that prove to be fatal and improve the chances of survival for many hopeless patients. This scientific project usually involves the application of DNA sequence to develop certain types of protein combined with anti-body drug.

Since its discovery in 1992, human genome project has gained success within the field of biopharmaceutical industry by discovering various treatment drugs for cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis and other incurable diseases. Already, the clinical trials have proven to be successful and this industry is growing daily in spite of the serious implications that accompanies it. The genome research has provided many social and economic benefits to the society today.

The Human Genome project and its revolutionary insight to the genetic blue print of the human body

The human genome project is a scientific application of biotechnology to develop pharmaceuticals by identifying the problematic proteins in the body. Some of these proteins may have defects; some may be in excess or may also be totally absent from the body. Therefore, the technology is used to engineer the protein or similar molecules to repair the problems in the body (Gad, 2007 & Cantor & Smith, 1999).

Although, the human genome project promises a revolutionary insight to the genetic blue print of the human beings, its application has raised some serious social, ethical, and economic implications. This paper will consider the social, ethical, and economic implications that have emerged from the application of this project. The paper also seeks to discuss its relationship to the broader context of genetic engineering and its applications by examining the application of frank stein metaphor and its potentiality for genetic engineering.

Genome is a general term that includes the entire DNA organism and the genes that store and transmit all the proteins that are used therein. It is the proteins stored therein that decide the general component and behavior of the organism and its ability to fight against viral infection (Barnes & Dupre, 2008).

For many years, scientists have attempted to find the therapeutic solution to the incurable diseases that continue to kill many people around the world. However, in 1992, a breakthrough was found in human genome project (Barnes & Dupre, 2008).

Toriello (2003) explains that it is the decoding of the mollecular arrangement in the chromosomes, part of the reproductive cells, which is mostly found in human body. Scientists and doctors believe that human genome is the genetic blue print that forms the core elements of the physical and behavioral traits of every human individual. These traits are passed through inheritance to their offspring (Toriello, 2003).

One of the main goals of human genome project is to undertake research into the genetic makeup of non-human species, especially laboratory mouse, fruit fly and many others (Cantor & Smith, 1999). The DNA variations of human beings is what is being used by scientists to diagnose, treat and somewhat prevent various diseases and disorders that affects human beings. Scientists also use DNA to determine individual’s biological make up, natural abilities and how to solve challenges that face human reproduction, food production, environmental effects, health care and social welfare (Murray, 1996).

However, Human genome project does not operate in isolation, but involves other scientific disciplines like genetic engineering, molecular biology, eugenics, biochemistry, and bio-pharmacology (Cantor & Smith, 1999). Cooper states that the aim of the human genome project is to identify and learn the sequences of the thousands of genes or DNA that mostly determine the characteristics and development of phenotype (Cooper, 1994).

Scientists have discovered that the solution lies with the scaling and purification of antibodies. Therefore, in conjunction with biopharmaceutical companies, they employed the use of commercial proteins for treating human diseases (Gottschalk, 2009).The antibodies are commercially produced in large scale in the laboratories by involving cultured cells from mammal tissues, which are then grown in a safe environment to produce human drugs.

The process of purifying these antibodies to produce proteins from mammals like mice have not just faced many challenges, but also raised many questions as well as raising many serious implications. Today, these therapeutic antibodies are widely available in the clinical markets around the world (Gottschalk, 2009).

Although, genetics has become an important part of medical practice and treatment, its implementation has not only made an impact on health care, but also raised many ethical implications (Murray, 1996). Murray also argued that it has reinvented the new meaning of the relationship between patients and physicians thus, revolutionizing the ‘social institutions, legal provisions and economic arrangements’ of this relationship ( Murray 1996:17).

Some of the ethical implications of genetic research touches on informed consent , privacy and confidentiality. It is imperative that all the research subjects or participants have been informed and their consent obtained before any research has been done on them. The subjects also need to be fully prepared before and have been educated on the risks and benefits of research process.

Generally, there are possibilities of psychosocial risks that may arise such as stigma, guilt, identity crisis and false results that may adversely affect the patient. It is important that all the participants are reassured and their confidential information and identity maintained.

Having an access to and disclosure of genetic information are other factors that must be addressed appropriately. Additionally, the researchers also need to give or lay down clear procedures on how to collect the genetic samples and how to conduct the research (Boon, 2002).

Furthermore, the process and procedure for collecting and storing the research samples such as blood, tissue, saliva and other kinds of body fluids for future must be properly done. To obtain such information, one needs to follow the proper channel. Such a research may affect children most compared to adults. Children who take part in such a research may face possible long-term consequences like social stigma and or even institutional discrimination (Boon, 2002).

Genetic research raises the question determining the sexual orientation. Lone (1999) argues that the use of genetic research to determine the sexual behaviors and orientation may have serious controversies and consequences in the family. For instance, the information may be used to harm the unborn children who may have homosexual orientation and those who are born may be forced to seek medical treatment or discriminated against. Moreover, it may lead couples to choose the sex of the child they want to have leading to abortions.

Unfortunately, genetic research and information can be used negatively, to discriminate people who are perceived to have some form of mental disorders, unintelligent or with physical defects or those of different races leading to what are referred to as Eugenics or racial purity (Barnes & Dupre, 2008).

In fact, some writers even argue that genome project is a result of Eugenic sequence, which was performed to control the human populations. Eugenics is a scientific study for depopulation of human species by controlling the reproduction of people perceived to have defects or presumed to suffer from undesirable inheritable characters.

This may include people suffering from mental or physical disorders or disabilities (Smoller et al, 2008). This may have serious social and political implications if used in Nazi style to control the population (Lioyd, 2008, p. 57). In a way, it may result to another holocaust or ethnic cleansing.

Genetic Engineering includes factors such as gene cloning, gene therapy, gene manipulation, gene modification, and recombinant DNA technology. The genetic research has also been used to study the brain stem cells thus leading to revolutionary treatment of mental diseases and psychotic disorders. However, the manner in which this research is conducted on animals and then tested on human beings is believed to have led the patients to drug abuse.

Scientists therefore apply medical technology to identify the gene variations and separate the chromosomes connected to different or same species. The moral objection of this practice raises the question of manipulation of human genome, seen by the religious circles as playing God. The debate over genetic engineering has heated up since 1980s touching on the theories of evolution, sexuality, gender and philosophy of biology (Lioyd, 2008).

However, the emergence and development of genetic engineering in the modern age mirrors the horrors of Frankenstein myth and fictions on embryonic research. According to Mulkay (1996, 157), the genetic research is a realization of “Frankenstein dream of systematic, science based control over the control over the creation of human beings”, being practiced today in fertility clinics. Although, Frankenstein was dubbed as a mad scientist, his predictions about human manipulations through human genome project are fulfilled.

From business perspectives, genome research and genetic treatment has attracted huge financial incentives. Many people are now turning focus on this therapy to solve their diseases. It is continuing to promise big financial pay offs, from genetically produced products continuing to change the lives of many people around the world. There have been massive development and expansion of biotechnological research and production with great financial rewards. This technology does not only deal with therapeutic advancement but also with agricultural production (Sulston & Ferry, 2002).

Genetic engineering has revolutionized and improved human survival who are somewhat threatened by drought, famine and other environmental disasters. This method is being used for sustainable agriculture in famine prone countries for commercial purposes in large scale. Genetic engineering has also improved human lives, especially life expectancy by treating the diseases that were considered incurable. Economically, it has provided millions with job opportunities in research institutions, clinics, and pharmaceutical companies.

Conclusion

This paper has examined the social, ethical, and economic implications of human genome project for the society and its potential for applications of the genetic research. It has looked at the arguments surrounding the genetic engineering and its applications to human beings.

Largely, it has established that evolution of genetic engineering and its application in human life in areas such as IVY and embryonic treatment, which are largely popular, were predicted in Frankstein horror movies. For many years, scientists and Doctors tried in vain the cure and therapeutic solution for incurable diseases and disorders including HIV /AIDS, diabetes, and cancer.

However, the breakthrough has only come through the genetic research of which genome project plays a big part. Although, this genome research is hugely popular, its application and implementation has raised serious socio-economic, political, legal, and ethical implications. Some of the problems associated with this practice, includes eugenics that is the method of controlling human population, which somehow, has led to ethnic cleansing like the Nazi style.

The other problems include the prediction of child sexual orientation and other disorders or defects before. This may lead to termination or discrimination of children who are considered undesirable or undeserving. Nevertheless, genetic research has become a multibillion-dollar income, with many people turning to it for treatment and food production.

Both the pharmaceutical companies and bio technological research centers are making huge money out of this project. Genetic research has also improved human lives and survival through genetically modified food, IVF treatment giving hope to infertile men and women who could not have babies.

More importantly, it has offered much the chance to survive some of the incurable diseases and given a longer life expectancy. Above all, it has given many, the hope of employment opportunities. There are many people who are now employed in genome research institutions, clinics and pharmaceutical industries.

Bibliography

Barnes, B., & Dupre, J., 2008. Genomes and what to make of them. Chicago: University of Chicago press.

Boon, K. A., 2002. The human genome project: what does decoding DNA mean for us? Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.

Cantor, C. R., & Smith, C. L., 1999. Genomics: the science and technology behind the human genome project. New York: John Wiley.

Cooper, N. G., 1994. The human genome project: deciphering the blueprint of heredity. Mill Valley, Calif: Univ. Science Books.

Gad, S. C., 2007. Handbook of pharmaceutical biotechnology. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Gottschalk, U., 2009. Process scale purification of antibodies. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.

Lioyd, E.A., 2008. Science, Politics, and Evolution. Leiden: Cambridge University Press.

Lone, D.L., 1999. “Whose genes are they? The Human Genome Diversity Project”. J Health Soc Policy 10 (4): 51–66.

Mulkay, M., 1996. “Frankestein and the Debate over embryo research”. In Science, Technology & Human Values 21(2): 157-176.

Murray, T. H., 1996. The human genome project and the future of health care. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

Smoller, J. W., Sheidley, B. R., & Tsuang, M. T., 2008. Psychiatric genetics: applications in clinical practice. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Pub.

Sulston, J., & Ferry, G., 2002. The common thread a story of science, politics, ethics, and the human genome. Washington, D.C: Joseph Henry Press.

Toriello, J., 2003. The Human Genome Project. New York: Rosen Pub. Group.

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IvyPanda. (2019, March 31). The Human Genome project and its revolutionary insight to the genetic blue print of the human body. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-human-genome-project-and-its-revolutionary-insight-to-the-genetic-blue-print-of-the-human-body/

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"The Human Genome project and its revolutionary insight to the genetic blue print of the human body." IvyPanda, 31 Mar. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/the-human-genome-project-and-its-revolutionary-insight-to-the-genetic-blue-print-of-the-human-body/.

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IvyPanda. "The Human Genome project and its revolutionary insight to the genetic blue print of the human body." March 31, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-human-genome-project-and-its-revolutionary-insight-to-the-genetic-blue-print-of-the-human-body/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Human Genome project and its revolutionary insight to the genetic blue print of the human body." March 31, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-human-genome-project-and-its-revolutionary-insight-to-the-genetic-blue-print-of-the-human-body/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Human Genome project and its revolutionary insight to the genetic blue print of the human body'. 31 March.

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