Human Genome Project Completed - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/14/03

Human Genome Project Completed

It was a great day for science on Monday as researchers announced they have completed the human genome project. Three years ago, they celebrated that they had finished 97% of the gene mapping, this last journey was the most difficult.

But now, with this blueprint of the human gene complete, the information can be applied toward discovering new cures and defining the differences between people from different geographical regions. To appreciate how big a discovery this is, scienetists say mapping the gene structure of the human body has been compared to splitting an atom, or landing on the moon.

DNA was discovered 50 years ago by Nobel Laureate James Watson. That discovery is the catalyst to Monday's culmination of work announced by the National Human Genome Research Institute and Department of Energy.

Through this research, it becomes clearer that despite genetic variations, we are all the same in many ways and we house some very different genetics based on individual geographical ancestry. This discovery may also give a blueprint on how far we can go in discovering the causes of various diseases.

Project leader, Dr. Francis Collins says, "I would say actually that vision is coming true, but it's coming true for each disease at its own pace. I think in cancer we're furthest along with the development of drugs like Levac which are based upon a genetic understanding and providing a precise targeted approach toward a particular type of leukemia. But for diseases like diabetes or mental illness, where we don't as yet really know what our target should be, it's going to take somewhat longer."

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