GENOME is all biological information of a human being found in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the genetic material of all cellular organisms and most viruses.

John Donnie Ramos, a professor at the department of Biology in the College of Science, defined genome as the sum total of an organism’s genetic content. The genome contains the approximately 20,000 to 25,000 genes of a person that cluster together to form 46 chromosomes—23 from the mother, and 23 from the father.

Ramos said that a person’s physical appearance and personality traits are not based on the arrangement of the genes, but is due to the presence of genes in the genome. Environmental factors also affect the genes.

“For example, identical twins that originated from a single cell in the womb have the same genome. However, as they grow [and get exposed to different environments], one twin may eventually end up having breast cancer, while the other may not,” Ramos said.

The Human Genome Project launched in October 1990 in the United States tried to identify the genes in the human DNA, determine the sequences of the three billion chemical base pairs that make up the human DNA, and store this information in databases. The project was finished in early 2000, with fears that it may be used unethically.

Ramos said the project may be used to discriminate people.

“Insurance companies who wouldn’t want to have customers who will eventually be diagnosed with a disease such as diabetes could use the project as a means to [discriminate against] their customers,” he said. “These issues are part of the project so that it wouldn’t eventually be abused by other sectors of society.”

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But he said the project has produced a huge progress in the medical field, such as newborn screening.

“This could help physicians in the diagnosis of specific types of diseases by dealing with it at a genetic level instead of using conventional diagnostic process,” Ramos said.

“By analyzing the genes responsible for the disease, a unique type of therapy may be given to a patient to ensure maximum health benefits,” he added. Maria Joanna Angela D. Cruz


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