The Human Genome Project (HGP) is the most exciting breakthrough in human genetics in modern times! Geneticists from around the world collaborated to determine the nucleotide sequence for the complete human genome. This genetic map gives the location of each of the approximately 100,000 human genes composed of roughly 3 billion nucleotides.
The immense value of this knowledge will provide new understanding of how all genes work, how they are regulated, and how and why they create biological molecules. The human genome can then be compared to other known animal genomes to examine similarities and differences that may be useful in the creation of new genetic recombinations. Some of the knowledge gained may allow gene replacement and other gene-therapy strategies. For instance, it is known that sharks never contract cancer. If there is a cancer-inhibiting gene in sharks that could be incorporated into humans with no side effects, another serious health concern could be avoided. The possibilities open genetic engineering as a profitable, socially beneficial enterprise in the near future. It is estimated that there are more than 3,000 human genetic disorders!
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Biology © 2004 by Glen E. Moulton, Ed.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.