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  • Janice and Ben Haines
    Sep 12, 1998
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      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
      other cancers.)


      p.s. still working on getting that new mailing list for NHL-low, some
      technical difficulties.


      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."


      Other Reading:
      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
      web site.

      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."