887HUMANE GENOME PROJECT/CGAP
- Sep 12, 1998Greetings,
One area of research that we haven't really even touched on is THE HUMAN
GENOME and CANCER GENOME ANATOMY projects. While at first thought many find
the Human Genome Project to be controversial because of recent news on
cloning human/animals, it will (already is) be a fascinating way to develop
protocols to fight cancer and other diseases. On an obvious note, it is
the basis for gene therapy. (i.e. HER2 for breast cancer. In the future,
keep your eyes out for information on the gene P53 for lymphoma and various
p.s. still working on getting that new mailing list for NHL-low, some
1.1 Overview of the Human Genome Project
The US Human Genome Project (the "Project") is a joint DOE/NIH effort that
was formally initiated in 1990. Its stated goal is
"...to characterize all the human genetic material--the genome--by improving
existing human genetic maps, constructing physical maps of entire
chromosomes, and ultimately determining the complete sequence... to
discover all of the more than 50,000 human genes and render them accessible
for further biological study."
May 1998 Issue of Discover:
The Code Breaker By James Shreeve
Below are snippets:
"The focus of the study is the genome - the complete genetic code for an
organism, whether man or microbe."
"The answers were hidden in the precise order of the rungs ont the helical
ladder of our DNA - rungs that are composed of paired combinations of four
bases called adenine and thymine, guanine and cytosine(or A,T,G, and C)."
(on knowing a genome)
The potential value of this knowledge is enormous. For starters, the
tedious work of locating and identifying a gene will soon be a thing of the
past. Biologists will be able to jump immediately to the larget questions
of how a particular gene works and interacts with others. Knowing the
totality of an organism's genetic instructions also reveals just how much
it is investing in one metabolic process or another. The advantages of
knowing genomes of pathogens that cause malaria, syphilis, cholera, and
tuberculosis - all genomes being sequenced by TIGR (TIGR is a biotech firm)
- are equally huge. Infectious microbes rely on subterfuges they have
evolved to evade their host's natural antibodies and to resist man-made
antibiotics. Sequencing the genomes is like stearling their plan of attack.
(more info specific to cancer)
"A Library of Hope: The Cancer Genome Anatomy Project"
Scientific American, Cancer Smart publication, July 1998
Over the past decade, scientists have made enormous progress in
understanding some of the genes that are involved in cancer. The steady
flowof announced genetic discoveries in recent years is largely
attributable to improvements in the molecular analysis - the study of a
cell's genetic foundation and DNA. Still, most of the genes that play a
role in cancer development are as yet unknown.
Beginning in 1996, the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project (CGAP), sponsered by
the National Cancer Institute, took on the challenge of studying in a
comprehensive way the genetic puzzle that lies at the root of cancer.
At present, researchers know of about 40,000 human genes, but the total
number may range as high as 60,000 to 100,000.
Achievements to date:
Since its inception, the CGAP project has discovered more than 6500 human
genes. Many groups are using CGAP data, and one of CGAP's greatest
challenges is to organize all this material, including the Tumor Gene
Index, in a central site that will provide the most up-to-date information
for those carrying out these studies. One important vehicle for
distributing this information freely and immediately is through the CGAP
Where does all this genetic analysis lead? "I think the huge challenge is
one of turning this data into information that will be useful to cancer
researchers," notes Dr. (Robert) Stausberg (Director of the CGAP project).
"I firmly believe - and this is why I'm doing this - that analysis of the
genes involved in cancer is going to lead to great advances in patient
care. My opinion is that what will come from this is an age of true
molecular medicine, in that we will be able to look carefully at the
genetic profile of the patient and tumor and then develop therapies (or
approaches to prevention) that are specifically tailored to that individual."