“Cracking the Code of Life” Reflection

After watching the “Cracking the Code of Life” Video, I became more aware of the Human Genome Project’s role in gene mapping and the genetic code. The Human Genome Project is a project in which scientists and researchers have come together to sequence the three billion DNA base pairs that make up the human genome. The goals of the Human Genome Project are to find all of the human genes and sequence the genes of other organisms that are important to medical research. The project is aiming to learn more about human genes and DNA base pairs that can benefit them in knowing more about other organisms. Before the Human Genome Project, scientists used the old process of gene mapping and they would take the original ladders for DNA sequence and then read them by putting a letter next to the band being called and then writing those down on a piece of paper. There would be hundreds of millions of As, Cs, Ts, and Gs, and only one percent of them are active and important. It would take a horrendous amount of time for scientists to go through and find the ones of important. However, computers have revolutionized gene mapping because instead of decoding a few hundred letters by hand in a day, computers can do thousands every second. This has made the process a lot faster and easier. The research done in the Human Genome Project will give us more information about the “code.” Knowing the “code” will tell us the blueprint of a human being. This information will be used to decode every letter of the genome. Sometimes, out of the three billion base pairs in our DNA, only one can make the difference. The “code” will ultimately allow scientists to examine the different parts of the genome to get the all around picture of the coding in humans.  While watching the movie, I also learned more about many diseases, such as Tay Sach’s and cystic fibrosis. Tay Sach’s is a progressive disease where one spot of the DNA ladder goes wrong. Because genes create proteins, the error causes a problem in the protein that is supposed to dissolve the fat in the brain. Therefore, the protein doesn’t work, fat builds up and swells the brain, and eventually brain cells are crushed. Children with this disease die by the age of five to seven. It is a genetic condition that slowly destroys a baby’s brain. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that attacks several organs of the body, especially the lungs and many of the patients die at an early age. The case of Toni Robbins is being closely studied because there were only three letters than made up an irregular protein. If this mishap could be fixed, salt would be able to leave the cells and he could get better. Studying the proteome is so important because it helps scientists understand the protein’s shape, function, and behavior and how it relates to diseases. The Human Genome Project could eventually benefit people because it allows people to find out early if they are at risk for any kinds of diseases. A more aggressive approach is being taken so that parents could be informed before they start to have children the dangers that could be facing them. There have also been studies in Iceland showing the medical records of patients. If some patients were found with the disease, there was no cure and this could have a negative emotional affect on the patients. I feel that it is appropriate to study an entire population’s DNA and medical history because if possible diseases are found, scientists can research to find possible cures. Businesses could also use this information to help analyze their results and make medical breakthroughs in the field of research. With the results, businesses could save lives in the field of medicine. Some other fun facts I learned are that humans are very similar to bananas- fifty percent of the genes found in bananas are in us. All of the machinery that goes into replicating your DNA, controlling your cell cycle and the cell surface, and making nutrients is all the same as a banana. The two genes that carry mutations that increase the risk for breast cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. There is a 10% chance that a person with this mutation will develop breast cancer. Overall, watching this movie made me more educated regarding the Human Genome Project and its motives. I have also realized that if tests were available for diseases like breast cancer, I would want to be tested even if a cure was not et available. With this knowledge, I would be able to take precautions in my everyday life and know more about my own health. 

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