Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsBiology · 1 decade ago

What will be the biggest benefit for human beings from mapping the human genome?

Update:

Most of the best answers talked about medical benefits from decoding the genome though even the most knowledgeable of you were rather vague about the benefits to come. That's understandable; at this point nobody knows where our research efforts will lead. Genetics has diagnostic potential but many scientists believe that in a few years proteins will prove to be more useful. The whole field is in flux.

A number of you mentioned immortality. There has certainly been a lot of speculation about that, but many lines of research lead me to feel quite certain that immortality is not in our future. It's fun to think about, but don't hold your breath.

I choose the answer from ZERO COOL because it focused on realistic outcomes, including rational drug design, early detection of genetic predisposition to disease, and custom drugs. And the author seems to have a firm grasp of exactly how we move from symptomatic treatment to addressing disorders at a fundamental level.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Knowledge is power. Expanding our knowledge of humanity's basic components will potentially help medical professionals understand and cope with a variety of biological enemies, such as cancer and detrimental genetic conditions. Further, deeper understanding of the disease processes at the level of molecular biology may determine new therapeutic procedures. This is the greatest benefit that can come from increased knowledge of the human genome...

    Molecular Medicine:

    •Improved diagnosis of disease

    •Earlier detection of genetic predispositions to disease

    •Rational drug design

    •Gene therapy and control systems for drugs

    •Pharmacogenomics "custom drugs"

    Technology and resources promoted by the Human Genome Project are starting to have profound impacts on biomedical research and promise to revolutionize the wider spectrum of biological research and clinical medicine. Increasingly detailed genome maps have aided researchers seeking genes associated with dozens of genetic conditions, including myotonic dystrophy, fragile X syndrome, neurofibromatosis types 1 and 2, inherited colon cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and familial breast cancer.

    On the horizon is a new era of molecular medicine characterized less by treating symptoms and more by looking to the most fundamental causes of disease. Rapid and more specific diagnostic tests will make possible earlier treatment of countless maladies. Medical researchers also will be able to devise novel therapeutic regimens based on new classes of drugs, immunotherapy techniques, avoidance of environmental conditions that may trigger disease, and possible augmentation or even replacement of defective genes through gene therapy.

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  • 3 years ago

    Human Genome Mapping Benefits

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  • 1 decade ago

    Is widely accepted and commonly known that the biggest benefit of mapping the human genome will be the eradication of most of the diseases that afflict humanity. All is great under this noble visage that science can be applied to charity lets we forget that big companies supporting the research own a major chunk of the royalties for these discoveries. A part of our genome already has an owner and a patent making it impossible for others to access such research. It is only ironic that the technology that was invented to help humanity will turn on us in the end.

    We should accept that as earth creatures we have limits, the cycle of life affects every living creature from an amoeba to a whale. We continuously defy and challenge nature, technology has giving us the opportunity to extend our lives by a couple of centuries, to fight disease and cheat death. Once we finish mapping the human genome what will the outcome be? Eternity for some that can afford to customize their heirs, brewing a new race to inherit and continue the monopoly and control of the flawed human species that have survived. As animal creatures we are superior due to our use of reason and the help of technology from ancient flints to atom splitting machines however civilized that makes us we are no different to the other creatures and that is due to the fact that we are all selfish.

    In the end there are going to be more disadvantages than benefits. The cure will be available to the highest bidder.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The biggest benefit of mapping the human genome and specifically the Human Genome Project (HGP) is that it generates a lot of public interest. It has people talking about non-clear cut issues that may or may not result from mapping the genome. Knowledge is power and the public definitely needs to have a better understanding of these issues.

    Secondly, it is an international effort. This is an important direction for science in general to be going towards. Also due to the vast amounts of sequence information generated and the requirement for them be publicly accessible, invaluable databases have been created (which now extend to benefit research done in other species).

    Thirdly, the HGP revealed that there was a relatively small number of genes compared to what was thought. This resulted in my third benefit: a check to some human's egos. It was upheld in some circles that humans are superior to all other organisms and hence should have the largest genomes. Not even close to being the case; just ask the lily.

    Some perspective, perhaps:

    Everyone's genome is different. The HGP only sequenced the genomes of a few individuals and not completely at that. It was widely thought that once the human genome sequence was known all diseases would be cured or we would be immediately launched into a GATACA-like society (reference to the movie). But knowing one or even a few sequences isn't all that meaningful; it is simply a string of letters. The real power comes from knowing a lot of sequences and then comparing/contrasting them to find out what is the same or different. By knowing these differences, researchers can then start to understand the genetic basis of diseases (a goal of The International HapMap Project). The real benefit of mapping the human genome is that it enables researchers to better correlate genes to phenotypes and vice versa. Knowing which gene is responsible for a disease is not the same as curing the disease, albeit a step closer.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I don't think that there will be a great benefit for some time. We have just mapped the entire genome, but do we know how to interpret it correctly? It is like giving a map to someone and tell them what are the most important features on it. If the map has topographical features, will the person be able to point out the cliffs on it?

    If we do understand the mapping of the human genome, how do we account for mutations. Bacteria, flowers, and all living things mutate. So when we get the picture of the human genome, how long will it stay current? Will it be 2 centuries, 2 scores, 2 decades, 2 years, 2 months, 2 weeks, or 2 hours? I love how people that get the first navigation systems have to spend about $500 to update the maps on their cars so it can have the latest data because roads change and the best way to get somewhere changes too.

    Finally, it will be a great accomplishment, but until we know how to use the knowledge and for how long will it be good, I see no short term benefits from the human genome project.

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  • 4 years ago

    We should accept that as earth creatures we have limits, the cycle of life affects every living creature from an amoeba to a whale. We continuously defy and challenge nature, technology has giving us the opportunity to extend our lives by a couple of centuries, to fight disease and cheat death. Once we finish mapping the human genome what will the outcome be? Eternity for some that can afford to customize their heirs, brewing a new race to inherit and continue the monopoly and control of the flawed human species that have survived. As animal creatures we are superior due to our use of reason and the help of technology from ancient flints to atom splitting machines however civilized that makes us we are no different to the other creatures and that is due to the fact that we are all selfish.

    In the end there are going to be more disadvantages than benefits. The whole ending the human species and becoming something else. But I think when people say that they are assuming we suddenly evolve into space-faring telekinetics with anti-gravity vehicles and energy-powered weaponry. Not exactly. Humans today are not the same genetically as the first homo-sapien species. Just add a few significant physical and mental differences and there ya go. So evolving into something that doesn't suffer the same traits of what it is to "be human" is a long, long way away. And science isn't anywhere near being able to make us something so totally different.

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  • 5 years ago

    All is great under this noble visage that science can be applied to charity lets we forget that big companies supporting the research own a major chunk of the royalties for these discoveries. A part of our genome already has an owner and a patent making it impossible for others to access such research. It is only ironic that the technology that was invented to help humanity will turn on us in the end.

    We should accept that as earth creatures we have limits, the cycle of life affects every living creature from an amoeba to a whale. We continuously defy and challenge nature, technology has giving us the opportunity to extend our lives by a couple of centuries, to fight disease and cheat death. Once we finish mapping the human genome what will the outcome be? Eternity for some that can afford to customize their heirs, brewing a new race to inherit and continue the monopoly and control of the flawed human species that have survived. As animal creatures we are superior due to our use of reason and the help of technology from ancient flints to atom splitting machines however civilized that makes us we are no different to the other creatures and that is due to the fact that we are all selfish.

    In the end there are going to be more disadvantages than benefits. The cure will be available to the highest bidder.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I am a paraplegic man, due to an automobile accident 25 years ago. Thus, I have tried to stay somewhat informed, on any medicine that could have an influence, on my disability. Therefore, needless to say, I have some personal insight on this issue.

    The closer we get to being able to alter and modify the human body, in ways previously deemed "unethical", the closer we humans get to making God and Nature...no longer ethical.

    There are steps being taken today, that just a few years ago were considered unethical, if not irresponsible. Yet, with time and sensitivity conditioning, belief systems change. Now, what is accepted as "progressive" or "forward thinking", was once thought of as "un-natural" or even "playing God".

    I do not claim to know why we continue to change what is ethical or acceptable. Although it seems logical that ethics change slightly in tow of medicine and technology. IF, this is true, then I say that Genome Mapping is possibly too far ahead of ethics on the curve and should be put on hold, until the understanding, of what it means to humanity at ALL levels, has been brought forward also.

    Of course there is no turning back, nor should we, but there is still the ability to control where, and how quickly, we go forward. Once we have gone too far, too fast, then it cannot be undone. The fictional story of Frankenstein still has very non-fictional messages for today's Medical World.

    So, what will be the biggest benefit for human beings from mapping the human genome? I do not know. I just hope we spend enough time figuring it out, before we find out.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It's really unknown at this time.

    Having the map doesn't mean we understand how to read it. In addition, every person's genes are slightly different.

    While the concept of either preventing or curing diseases is probably the most obvious answer, identifying what is a disease and what is "different" is complicated.

    The potential for this to be horrifically transformational culturally is great. The most common conflicts today such as racial or sexual orientation could suddenly become a question of healthy or diseased. Extremist groups could fund 'cures' in a manner even the Nazis never imagined.

    Many genetic disorders and diseases have already been identified by specific mutations. Unfortunately, the mutations, or even the normal genes, vary greatly from one individual to the next. Modifying even a small portion of a gene may have an enormous number of side effects. Identifying useful, effective and safe treatments will likely be far more difficult than traditional medicine.

    On the other hand, we would potentially (and often for the first time) be treating the root cause of an illness, rather than just the symptoms. True cures, and even "life enhancement" medicine could become the medical approach of the future. Perhaps a simple genetic tweak could enhance metabolism to help people lose weight. Reconstructive surgery could be replaced by new genetic growth. Athletes could be created instead of just born.

    Basically, the possibilities are limited only by our ability to understand what we learn and will be tempered only by the collective ethics of society. Countries may pass laws to prevent unethical science, but other countries may not, criminals will continue to exploit whatever they can despite the laws, and the stakes would be much higher in regards to genetics.

    However, realistically speaking, criminal organizations have been unable to develop nuclear technology despite its existence for the last 60+ years. So far, there have been limits to what can be funded by crime.

    In any event, medical research, along with developing a better understanding of the biological/physical nature of humanity will drive the science for the forseeable future. The greatest strides will probably come from being able to develop better traditional medical treatments rather than radically new approaches, at least for the next 50 years or so. These will probably fall within measurable genetic diseases (like Muscular Dystrophy) rather than degenerative diseases like cancer or alzheimer's. Then again, there may be lurking genetic causes for those as well that we just haven't found.

    Then again, who would have believed the computerization of the world 50 years ago?

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  • 1 decade ago

    With a population growing very close to 7 billion, humans can be considered the disease overtaking the earth and killing it, just as some diseases do to the human race. When the human genome is mapped, it will most likely mean longer lifes for everyone. This presents a couple of good benefits, but far to many bad. A good benefit would be, not dying so soon, everyone hates the thought of dying and wants to live forever! (usually so they dont have to worry about where they are going when they die.) But, do we want everyone living 100, 200, 300 years or more? Sure your grandma being alive for 300 years would be nice but what if a figure like Hussien or Hitler lived 300 years? Not a good thought? Back to my original point, the earth is being taxed, by us! We are taking the nutrition out of the soil and using chemicals to enrich it again and the fattened animals you see on farms, they are fattened by man made chemicals, not by overeating. This is becoming very serious in America especially, so serious that other countries are banning are food because it is so chemicaly enhanced! With the o-zone depleting and the human population still growing we have no room to live longer lifes (even though I would love to be 300 years old some day, assuming I could keep my 20 year old body!) it just isn't possible, sure disease should be cured, wars should be stopped, and the starving should be fed. That does not mean are bodies should be enhanced. In my opinion we should set a limit on how many kids we can have, if not by the government then by are own concurn for are grandkids, or are grandkids grandkids!

    Lucas. 12/9/06

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    In reality, probably nothing worth writing a book about.

    The biggest planned advantage is the ability to understand the whys and hows of diseases, which in turn allows us to seek out ways of eradicating or preventing those diseases.

    As for cloning and immortality, let's face it, they're not going to work (and I'm talking about a macroscopic level). Cloning your own healthy organs for future replacements would be beneficial, but cloning another you is pointless. Maybe it's cool to think about, or makes for a cheesy plot-device in a sci-fi movie, but let's drop the whole "the government is mass-producing an army of clones" bit, please.

    Immortality. Neat idea. Genetic immortality, no death from age or sickness. Well, maybe. Granted, it'd still be difficult. Humans are not the only creatures that evolve. I imagine that diseases and viruses would evolve too and we'd just end up shifting a few numbers around: Human average life span, 500 years, a certain virus life span, 20 years, etc. But as a lot of people have pointed out, immortality wouldn't work socially. The planet has physical boundaries and finite resources. You can make the human body as theoretically eternal as you like but without the resources to keep it that way it's doomed to cease.

    For immortality to actually work you'd pretty much have to have a hierarchy. An elite group of immortals pulling the strings. Sounds like the plot to some kind of vampire gig, but it's the only way to work it. It's math. Indirectly proportional. If the number of immortals goes up, the total population must go down.

    It's cool to talk about evolution. The whole ending the human species and becoming something else. But I think when people say that they are assuming we suddenly evolve into space-faring telekinetics with anti-gravity vehicles and energy-powered weaponry. Not exactly. Humans today are not the same genetically as the first homo-sapien species. Just add a few significant physical and mental differences and there ya go. So evolving into something that doesn't suffer the same traits of what it is to "be human" is a long, long way away. And science isn't anywhere near being able to make us something so totally different.

    So basically we have a possible cure-all. A new aspirin. Can you write a book on that? Sure, but it's going to be a bore.

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