VietNamNet Bridge – While the Vietnam Science and Technology Institute cherishes the hope that Vietnam would successfully decode human genome, thus enabling to improve the Vietnamese race, others have doubts about the feasibility of the project.
Professor Nguyen Van Tuan from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia, in the interview given to Dat Viet newspaper, also said that Vietnam’s capability in genetic research remains limited.
The decoding of human genome has been carried out by many countries in the world since 1990. Could you please tell us about the achievements scientists have gained so far?
After 13 years of making great efforts, Human Genome Project (HGP) was completed in 2003. This was an international project implemented by a lot of countries, including the US, Japan, France, Germany and China.
HGP has obtained some significant goals, such as identifying 20-25 million genes in human cells, defining the sequence of 3 billion DNA units, building up the genetic database and improving genetic analysis means.
The next stage, the most important one, is to find out what genes relate to what diseases or characteristics of human bodies. We are now on the second stage, i.e. the stage of utilizing the achievements and database obtained by HGP.
Great achievements have been gained from genome decoding. For example, scientists can decode all the genes of an individual with breast cancer to find out what gene mutations can relate to the disease.
Scientists hope that in the future, genome analysis would be used to anticipate possible diseases of an individual very early, right from birth. This would allow physicians to decide what medicines he should use in order to minimize the side effects of the medicines during the treatment.
This has been called by scientists as “personalized medicine.” However, this remains a far-sighted scenario. In fact, we are still facing too many difficulties.
To date, a lot of research works have been made. However, no one can use genes for diagnose diseases, such as cancer, heart diseases or diabetes.
I know some companies have advertised that they can analyze all the chromosomes of an individual at the price of less than 1000 dollars, which allows to anticipate diseases. However, in fact, this is just commercial advertisement.
How about the decoding of the genomes of people with good physical situation, long life expectancy, or the genomes of talented people in sports, mathematics, music, science? Will the decoding help improve the race?
To date, no one can anticipate the life expectancy and other things by analyzing genes. Some scientists carried out research work on the individuals who are over 100 years old, but they have not found the “long-lived gene.” Maybe, the long-lived gene is just a dream.
And if the long-lived gene is just a dream, then the “cleverness gene” would be just fantastic. To date, there has been no exact definition about “cleverness.”
Let’s talk about the tallness of humans. All the genes discovered as having relating to the tallness can only explain 2 percent of the differences in the tallness of different individuals. I dare not think of “improving the race”, because “the race” is a little bit abstract conception.
Vietnamese scientists believe that if reasonable investments are made, Vietnam would be able to have a high-level genetic science. What would you say about this?
I think that the capability of Vietnam in making genetic research remains limited. I had the chance to cooperate with some Vietnamese colleagues, and we even could not analyze some DNA sequences. If we succeeded in analyzing, the total costs would be 30 times higher than in other countries.
Source: Dat Viet