Wo führt uns unser genetisches Wissen hin?

Das Entschlüsseln des menschlichen Genoms hat uns Einsichten in die menschliche Natur, in unsere Beziehung zur Welt und in unserer Zukunft gebracht. Wir kennen jetzt die Gruppe von Anweisungen, welche die menschliche Entwicklung regelt, nämlich die Art und Weise wie jeder von uns aus einer Zelle (dem befruchteten Ei) zu einem erwachsenen Menschen aus Hunderten von Billionen Zellen unterschiedlicher Art herangewachsen ist. Was wird das nächste sein?

Die Sprache des Genoms ist die DNA; ihr Alphabet besteht gerade einmal aus vier verschiedenen Buchstaben: G, C, A, und T. Doch das Genom enthält drei Milliarden dieser Buchstaben. Das Projekt "menschliches Genom" trug sie in ein 'Buch des Lebens' ein; dieses besteht aus 500 Bänden mit je 1.000 Seiten; auf jeder Seite stehen im Durchschnitt 1.000 Wörter zu je sechs Buchstaben. Hinsichtlich seiner Arbeitsweise besteht das menschliche Genom aus einem langen Satz, der drei Milliarden Buchstaben umfasst. Dieser gliedert sich in 24 Satzteile, die Chromosomen, die jeweils zwischen 45 bis 280 Millionen Buchstaben umfassen.

In einem Buch werden Wörter in Sätze gefasst, Sätze in Absätze und Absätze in Kapitel. Jede dieser Ebenen bietet eine höhere, umfassendere Stufe der Aussage. Das gleiche gilt für das menschliche Genom. Die Wörter des DNA sind die Gene, sie kodieren Proteine (Eiweiß), die molekularen Bausteinen des Lebens. Gene und Proteine wiederum werden zu biologischen Organen verbunden, zu Herz, Gehirn, Nieren, und so weiter, und diese führen die Funktionen des Lebens aus.

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