Although all humans share more than 99.99 percent of their genome sequences, each human is unique. Geneticists estimate that each person carries many mutations, perhaps hundreds or even thousands of them. Therefore, one of the major questions that has arisen in the Human Genome Project is "whose genome is it?" The final catalog of sequences, whenever it is complete, will have to take into account these individual variations, and ultimately there will be a "consensus sequence," but it will represent no one specific individual.
A related issue arises from the distinct differences that scientists anticipate will occur among different populations. Which sequences should be considered "normal," and which ones should be classed as "mutated"? The Human Genome Diversity Project was proposed in 1997 to catalog and study naturally occurring sequence variations among racial and geographic groups. This project never gained much support, however, because of the social and ethical ramifications to such a catalog. On the other hand, a Human Cancer Genome Anatomy Project was initiated to catalog all the genes that are expressed in cancer cells in order to aid in the detection and treatment of cancers. This project enjoyed much more support.
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