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Publication Detail
The human genome project - what it really means and where next
© Cambridge University Press 2012. Introduction Many things in medicine and life are over-hyped and aspects of genetics and its impact are no exception. One can consider the excitement about gene therapy of a few years ago and more recently about stem cells where the public’s expectations are raised so high and so quickly that nothing can survive this scrutiny. This is not the fault of the individual researchers who almost uniformly offer caution and, if anything, under-report the potential, but such is the desperation for progress in the treatment of a range of diseases that any such progress is seized upon and amplified by the press. However, there is an area where we believe the full impact of the achievement is only just being touched on – the sequencing of the human genome. This was a huge endeavor undertaken by an international consortium and, by any measure, was a dramatic success. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) universal declaration on the human genome and human rights states, “The human genome underlines the fundamental unity of all the members of the human family, as well as recognition of their inherent dignity and diversity. In a symbolic sense it is the heritage of humanity.”
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