The international human genome project is one of the most ambitious scientific projects in the history of science. Only comparable to that of the CERN particle collider. It began in 1998, supervised by James Watson, one of the discoverers of DNA. Scientists of all nationalities collaborate in it. Although the initial project ended in 2003, there are still no definitive conclusions.
Its purpose was to encode the complete sequence of human DNA, its genetic code. All genetic information is stored in each of our cells. If DNA containing a single cell were stretched, it would measure two meters. It was believed that knowing the genome would be equivalent to knowing the design instructions of the human being. It has not been like that. The genome was completed, and many questions remain unanswered.
The results were surprising. Scientists found many fewer genes than they expected. They calculated about 100,000 per person and only found about 25,000. There are plants with more genes than us. Although ours are more complex. It was discovered that we all have 99.9% of the information in common. What makes us unique and different is only 0.01%.
It is intended to identify and isolate the genes that cause some inherited diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, some types of cancer, etc. Gene therapy gives hope to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
But the most fascinating part of the human genome project was to discover that we are more than a DNA sequence embodied in a paper. We are more than just a code. He discovered that genes are activated and deactivated by some strange mechanism that we do not know, and that unites the experiences of some generations with others. An experience lived by a person can manifest its effects on their descendants, several generations later. This phenomenon is called epigenetics, and it is the great mystery of current genetics.
The genes transmit, in some way, the experiences of a person. They can be emotional, environmental, life habits experiences ... The most studied example is that of Holocaust survivors. The descendants of those who underwent this traumatic experience also suffer from their emotional stress. Not only their children, also their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, whose history is already far away. It was printed on their genes, and they transmitted it to their descendants.
The same goes for generations that led a very poor diet: associated diseases such as diabetes, etc. usually appear in their grandchildren. Similar effects are being observed in the United States on the children of survivors of the 9/11 attacks. Epigenetics is a fact, although we still don't know how it works.
In a way, genetics unites us to the lives of those who were before and those who will come later. It forces us to consider that we are not only responsible for our own lives, but also for those who will succeed us. Eye to the data.
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