Comprehensive coverage

Do you have spare chromosomes?

A selection of quotes from news and commentary from the days after the announcement of the Genome Project June 26-30, 2000

Summary of articles from other sites
References to interesting articles on other Israeli websites about the genome
the human

A summary of what is written on other sites
Maariv: Three new revolutions

Two revolutions are exciting us these days, and the third revolution is about to begin, which will be the biggest and most total of them all.

The first revolution is the one that was nicknamed the "new economy" - the same economic revolution that launched the telecommunications, internet and high-tech industries, and which is symbolized by the city mouse, aka the plastic mouse. Through it we reach anywhere, anytime through the computer. One small click eliminates borders, areas and time, and sets in motion a computing revolution, which has been called the "industrial revolution" of the XNUMXs for several years now.

Alongside the technological revolution, another revolution is taking place - the biological revolution. It is symbolized by the village mouse, aka the laboratory mouse. The best biological brains have been performing genetic experiments on him in recent years, which culminated this week with the announcement of the completion of the human genome mapping project. This revolution will allow us to intervene in the most sophisticated organic creation of human nature. Biotechnology will make it possible to crack the code that drives the human body, and it already makes it possible to engineer food and successfully deal with many diseases.

The copyright for this parable of the mice is reserved to Prof. Haim Harari, president of the Weizmann Institute, who has been talking a lot lately about how the world is preparing for the next revolution. This will be the revolution where the city mouse and the country mouse will unite. The computer and the human mind, technology and biology, will combine to march the world into an era in which man will perpetuate his control over creation.

Some are sure that it will be a perfect age, without food shortages and with medicine for every disease. Some are convinced that this is an inhuman era, in which man will become a small item in a global catalog of information and material in the hands of the computerized creator. There is no debate about only one thing - everyone is running like crazy in this direction, and regardless of whether it is good or bad, it is clear that those who step on the spot are not
will survive

And how do you survive in this global race? All experts are convinced that only through education. The technology revolution is driven by experts in the fields of mathematics, physics and computer science. The biology revolution is driven by scientists from the fields of medicine and nature - and this is exactly where our troubles begin.
We don't have any reasonable infrastructure in the field of education, and while the world is cracking the genetic code of the human race, here we are breaking up governments for a few million shekels for an education network of a movement, whose entire ideology is supposed to ensure that in Israel there will be as few children as possible who study technology or life sciences.

What the Barak government is doing, in the name of the political process, is not only to avoid moving Israel in the right direction, and not only to break his election promises. The government is actively working to lead the education system against the global trend, and this is not only reflected in the cultivation of Torah education networks.

Zvi Yanai to:ynet The dangers and promises in deciphering the genome
The former director general of the Ministry of Science calls for greater involvement of the company to prevent economic interests involved in decoding the genome from dictating the pace.

"Decoding the genes may open up many possibilities for human society. We may not be able to enjoy it, but our children and grandchildren certainly will." This is what the former director general of the Ministry of Science, Zvi Yanai, tells Ynet, following the expected announcement tomorrow (Monday) about the completion of the draft of the human genome.
According to him, "The better we understand the genetic structure, we will be able to locate diseases, and with different techniques try to neutralize them. We can also treat hereditary diseases at the level of the egg, locate the problematic gene and fix it."
According to Yanai, the big work is still ahead. "Knowing the genes is relatively easy, but understanding the conjugations is the difficult part, just like mastering the language. At first you learn to know the letters, then words and sentences, and when a person reaches adulthood he is able to create poetry using them. The 4 letters that mark the bases of DNA contain all the knowledge about the human body, and like any language, it can be used in various ways: from composing demagogic rhetoric on the one hand to opening new stages for humanity on the other."
Babies on order Deciphering the genes also poses heavy moral questions, such as the possibility of pre-planning the desired child. "If we want the children to be 185 cm tall or above, this has consequences, since everything that is done for the needs of the individual will have consequences for society. Everyone will want 185 cm, and the question is, will everyone be able to get it? And where will all this end? in 3 meters? Is it possible to stretch the use of genes?"
According to him, "an elitist layer will be able to use genetic engineering for daily needs, but large sections of the population will not be able to use it."
The same stratum will also certainly be the first to make an effort to extend life following the research. "There are genes that we have also seen in worms, and flies, that can extend life (in a worm, by 300%). The hunt for life-extending genes will be one of the fiercest goals, since there is no price for life."
Fear of harming delicate balances indicates possible dangers to man and the environment. "We know so little about the gardens, so it is not enough to speculate what the impact will be on the environment, when we plant this particular garden."
According to him, "95% of our genes are garbage DNA ("junk DNA") that we don't know what their function is, and 8211% of the garbage are dummy genes (lacking a protein code). I know that in the event that such a garden changes location, it may also cause paralysis and destabilization of the system. Therefore, it is not enough to know the function after the mapping, but one must be careful in transferring genes from one place to another because it may have a more severe effect that will only worsen the initial problem. There is a balance in this structure, and as soon as we start messing with it, we may cause much greater damage."
It is of course impossible without the financial side of the race after decoding the genes, in which Celera is already involved. "The scary thing is the potential of getting rich involved in the field. In the race to decipher the mapping between the public company and the private company Celera, Celera wants to get a patent for its discoveries. Thus the great danger is that the race, in which so much money is involved, may blind people's eyes to the necessary caution. Human society must therefore show more involvement and interest, to prevent curiosity and economic interests from dictating the pace, which human society is unable to digest.
In 50 years, about the period of time that will pass until the decoding is realized, Yanai says that "it is a process of decades, until we overcome all the obstacles. There are things that can be done more quickly, such as a certain correction of genetic defects, but the big questions such as the enhancement of intelligence, which will certainly be a desirable goal (experiments with mice whose genetic structure is similar to ours show that mental traits can be improved by genetic therapy), and the extension of life span, still far away. I predict that in 50 years and beyond we will be able to talk about the effect of extending life and increasing intelligence."
According to him, "This century is the century of biology, just as the previous century was of physics, and the concerns that arose already in the 70s, including the question of genetic cloning, will continue to surface from time to time, whenever an interesting development occurs."
(25.06.00, 14: 23)


Clinton: Decoding the genome will have a decisive impact on our lives
In a festive press conference, the teams of scientists presented the draft of the decoding of the human genome. Clinton and Blair came to encourage and support
"We came here to celebrate the decoding of the human genome": with these words the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, thanked the line of scientists who presented the wonderful discovery yesterday (Monday). Mapping the human genome, a project that will change human life in a way that is still difficult to estimate.
"In the coming years, doctors will be able to cure diseases such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's. The day will come when our children will think of cancer in terms of luck in astrology - and not as a terrible disease," Clinton promised at the press conference celebrating the scientific achievement. However, the American president warned against the dangers of the new discovery, such as "duplication of humans", or the creation of the perfect person: "We must make sure that the decoding of the human genome does not discriminate against groups in society, and that medicine takes care of all humanity", the president emphasized. He thanked the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who attended the press conference with him, as well as the "wonderful British scientists who took part in the project".
Hundreds of scientists from all over the world participated in the genome mapping project. They managed to map 97 percent of the genetic code, which is a starting point for the study of development and life. The scientists emphasize that this is only a first step: the road is still far from finding the causes of diseases and understanding the functioning of the human body.
(26.06.00, 18: 06)

Do you have a spare chromosome?

The future is already here: in the coming years we will know what makes up our genes, and we will receive the complete guide that will make us much more beautiful people.

Arela Gnislav

It sounds like a sequel to "Jurassic Park", but it turns out that this is the reality: the draft genome, which the scientists of the world have been turning over for several years, has been completed. In 1990, the USA announced the new flagship project of science - "mapping the human genome". The purpose of the project is to decipher the human "code", which exists in every cell of our body, and in fact the best minds are preparing for us the complete recipe for making a complete human being, preferably as smart and tall and beautiful as possible. The code, which is hidden among the genes, treasures within it all the information necessary to turn one single cell into a whole person. This interpretation forms the basis of a revolution in almost all fields of medicine, as it allows, apart from the realization of Hollywood fantasies, to find the causes of many diseases and to treat them early. The project was supposed to last about 15 years, but the improvement in research technologies made it possible to present a draft already, and the estimate today is that the project will be completed before the designated date (2005), mainly in view of the fact that the two competing projects are now trying to cooperate.

So what is a genome? A genome is all the hereditary material (known as DNA) of a particular organism, and it also includes the famous genes. The genes carry the information to create proteins, and these proteins determine, among other things, how we will look, how our body will function, what diseases we will get, and even what our intelligence will be. There is also an environmental influence, but today it is already clear that most of our traits are the result of our individual genetic background. The parents, again, are to blame for everything. Each cell of our body has a complete genome, which consists of 23 chromosomes. The DNA that makes up the chromosomes consists of four chemical bases, marked with the letters G, T, A, C. Each such base appears millions of times in each genome. The order in which the bases are arranged is the genetic code that scientists are looking for.
The human genome consists of 3.3 billion bases and it contains about 100,000 genes which make up about 5% of the entire genome. The rest of the genome consists of sequences, some of which are used to control the activity of genes, and additional roles, which are not yet known. Although over the years researchers all over the world have found genes, the great majority of them are still unknown.
To complete the task, each research laboratory participating in the project, most of which were concentrated in the USA, but also in many other countries, including Israel, received another region of the genome. The base sequences that had already been "read" were collected on a website that is constantly updated, and thus the information became public domain.
After the genes are found, scientific work will begin that will last for many years, during which it will be necessary to characterize the genes, check what their activity is and how they affect us.
Why make an effort? Knowing the gene sequences is of great value in further scientific and medical research. It will be possible to identify mutations in genes that cause diseases, to develop methods to correct defects in genes, to check if the fetus carries a defective gene and therefore may get sick, to develop effective medicines and make the person more and more immune.
The new information will certainly help prevent new diseases or cure them more efficiently, extend life expectancy and improve their quality, but the manipulations of nature will not end here. Researchers, philosophers, scientists and cultural figures from all over the world warn that the project is too dangerous. The predictions are a bit ominous: everyone wants their children to be tall, beautiful, healthy and smart, and the human race may show much the same. Everyone will run fast and be thin. We can buy blue eyes in the supermarket. The gap between the rich and the poor will also become a genetic gap. It will be possible to have an abortion if it turns out that the fetus may suffer from heart disease at the age of 60, and if he is born anyway, when will he be told about the future disease? And how will he live when everyone around him is healthy? It is also likely that the insurance company or the employer will also require a genetic profile. The health insurance funds will not accept everyone, and especially not those who may get sick. The future, then, is not so rosy.
(26.06.00, 18: 06)

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