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Ten years ago researchers from the US Britain France Germany Japan and China sat down and began developing the most important map ever made Instead of roads and landmarks this was a map of letters It was a rough map of the 3 billion letters of genetic instructions that make us who we are First On Monday 26 June 2000 the researchers announced that the map of the human genome was complete On 26 June 2000 the news of the completion of the human genome was on all the major news wires televisions and newspapers What does it mean though How will this help mankind One area to which this knowledge can be applied is in the area of gene-therapy Gene-therapy is now being tested to treat and cure some common genetic disorders Like all new research gene-therapy is the center of much controversy A discussion of genetic disorders and current prevention methods is enlightening In addition one must understand what gene-therapy is and how it is being used In order to understand how genetic diseases are formed it is important to understand how genetic traits are passed on from one generation to the next An individuals genes carry the codes needed to make proteins to perform specific functions throughout the body These genes are encoded into our DNA A gene is made up of alleles These alleles are the specific traits that each person possesses everything from eye color to physical size Some alleles are dominant such as the allele for brown eyes while others are recessive such as blue eyes During reproduction the alleles from both parents are combined and copied within the fertilized egg These genes may sometimes sustain damage or could be copied incorrectly When this happens it is called a mutation Mutations occurring in this manner are seldom for the better Fortunately the human body contains cells that police the genes and correct most damage they encounter Mutations are very
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