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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, September 1994; 6(3):8

Biomarkers

Researchers use biological indicators, called biomarkers, to detect events in biological systems that may be associated with exposure to environmental agents. Examples of biomarkers include changes in genetic material; cell death; and discovery of the environmental substance itself or its metabolites in urine, blood, or expelled air. For ascertaining individual disease risk, biomarkers can be grouped into three broad categoriesþexposure, biological effect, and susceptibility. The biological events they detect can represent variation in the number, structure, or function of cellular or biochemical components.

Biomarkers and other resources and technologies developed in the Human Genome Project will have a major impact on the study of environmental risk factors. The basic aim of scientists exploring these issues is to determine the nature and consequence of genetic change or variation, with the ultimate purpose of predicting or preventing disease. Most current tests for human exposure to environmental mutagens are only indicators of genetic damage, however. Genetic toxicology and mutation research will focus on advancing beyond this measurement stage to the study of genes and genetic variation.

The ability to directly and quickly sequence DNA will revolutionize mutation research and lead to insights into the relationship between exposure and disease development. Genetic toxicology data from these studies could be coupled with medical information to diagnose disease onset and develop therapeutic strategies.


HGMIS staff

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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v6n3).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.