by Monica G
The “One and Only” Disease-Causing Gene Database
We live in a society where information is everything. Everyday we expose ourselves to large amounts of data. Therefore it is easy to say that the people that have all this information have power.The power to change the world. But what if this information could potentially save lives? Should that factor make it free? The human genome is exactly this. It was started over decades ago to map out every single gene, then to identify the disease-causing mutations. The process is still underway, but many of sequences that cause Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s have been identified. So then the question becomes, why hasn’t this information been made available to the public? One reason being is that the data is not all in one place. Because different clinicians collect data around the world, it seems more logical for it to be stored somewhere accessible to them. But this makes it nearly impossible for other scientists to share all their research. Another reason being that data is big business, databases like Human Gene Mutation Database, require subscribers to pay a fee to access all the information. Other databases like Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, were started so long ago that much of the information is still in writing, therefore the online version lacks a lot of the substance required. For all these reasons, it would be much easier to have all the information stored in one place. Luckily, some countries like China have taken the initiative to do just this.
We have come so far, but somehow we cannot get over this bump in the road. The need to have databases has become key to our society’s success. In the age we live in, a disease causing gene database would do much needed good. The need to have a place where all information is kept has become overwhelming, Yes there would be some security issues, but the same can be said about the government have numerous databases holding all our private information, social security numbers, birth dates, etc. But that did not stop us, so why should it stop the scientific community.
This article becomes favorable in one’s eyes due solely because it shows how backwards we can become. We are supposed to be a society that moves forward but somehow it doesn’t look that way. That is not to say that advances have not been made, but why has it become so difficult to place all this knowledge in one place. One reason can be given is, money. Who will put forward the monetary needs to build such a database. Perhaps the government, but then then who gets credit for the work? These are simply some questions that the author brings to light. But the author’s right, so many factors tie into this project. At first glance, one can admit that all these factors seem somewhat silly, but in reality there not. This is the type of world we live in. And that is why it is so interesting, in every aspect of our lives, money and politics comes into play.
MacArthur, D. (2011, February 9). One database to hold them all. Wired. Retrieved September 27, 2011, from http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/02/one-database-to-hold-them-all/