Is DNA one of the most exciting discoveries since space travel?
Scientists think so.
Completed in 2003, the Human Genome Project was a landmark research project that identified the more than 20,000 genes in human DNA and determined the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA.
Newly-armed with knowledge of what makes up all living things, today genetic
scientists can travel distances heretofore unknown from seeing
how humans inherit the traits of their ancestors to predicting their medical future.
geneticists can already clone
cats and sheep, or genetically engineer the foods we eat. They can also play DNA detective
to match the criminal to the crime scene.
One day, in the not too distant future, further discoveries may lead to the rise of "designer
drugs" to help cure individual genetic disorders, or even a cure for old age.
Diagram of an animal cell showing chromosome and DNA double helix
Above, a diagram of a typical animal cell. Chromosomes located within the nucleus are made of base pairs, made up of two chemical bases (adenine and thymine or guanine and cytosine), which are the building blocks of the DNA double helix.
Getting to know you
Just like space exploration, genetics can be a bit intimidating. Genes are the "program" that execute all sorts of commands -- from the the color of your eyes to the diseases that you're likely to die from -- but are genes your destiny?
While the landmark 2003 human genome project seemed to form the basis for everything we needed to know, scientists now say that environmental factors are just as important. These include such variables as trauma and stress that occur during a person's lifetime. Less dramatically, even a simple change in diet may activate changes within your DNA.
Re-focusing their efforts on nature-and-nurture, today researchers have the most complete picture ever at the "final frontier" in medical diagnostics with more facts and information waiting to be discovered.
More about genetics around the Web:
Web, virtually tour the history of genetic discovery, and learn
more about genetic disorders, related controversies, the future
of medical gene therapy, along with images, videos, timelines
and tutorials taking visitors on a fascinating trip to the inner
core of life on earth ...
Genetics- Start with Genetics 101 from the University of
Utah featuring a helpful animated tour for beginners, a series
of online educational and medical courses focusing on cloning,
stem cell research, and do-it-yourself genetic research, online
library of genetic disorders, podcasts, images.
Home Reference -Check out a consumer-friendly guide to genetic testing
and counseling information, including an A-Z directory of genetic
diseases & conditions, glossary of terms, and related resources.
Glossary of Genetic Terms - How do you pronounce that? Listen and read more about
the topic searchable by keyword or browseable in an A-Z list,
with accompanying images & illustrations.