DNA Day experts answer your questions about the Human Genome Project

20 April 2012

Above: Image © U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Project, Public Domain

Is the whole human genome project promise legit or have we been oversold by popular media?

Little anxious about blaming the media - usually those of us in it don't make up stuff out of the blue. So yes, there's plenty of speculation, some of which will never come true ... but there will of course be advances based on the human genome that we can't even imagine. So there's plenty of promise, yes, it's just that we don't have an exact handle on it.

- Answer provided by Jay Ingram

The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003 and cost around $3 Billion dollars, what has been some of the most significant scientific discovery as result of its completion?

There are multiple. In health, we do now have genetic markers for diseases such as Huntingtons and autism. In livestock, we have healthier and more productive animals because of our knowledge of their genomes.

- Answer provided by Dr. Gijs Van Rooijen

How is it that we can know ( 99% ) the precise order of the 3 billion base pairs in the human genome, and yet not know what all the genes are?

Sometimes just knowing the sequence of a gene can' t tell us what it does. we have new technologies such gene knockouts that can help us determine what the gene does but not always. Sometimes genes can be involved with other gene products and specifically knowing what it does can be masked by the function of another gene.

- Answer provided by Dr. Dennis McCormac


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