IELTS Academic Reading Practice 17

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 12-25.

Questions 12-18

Do the following statements reflect the claims of the writer in the reading passage? In boxes 12-18 on your answer sheet, write

YES   if the statement reflects the claims of the writer
NO   if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN   if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

12. Not all scientists are enthusiastic about the Human Genome Project
13. The human genome consists of 3 million letters of genetic text
14. To date, more than 4,000 disorders of haemoglobin have been identified.
15. A genetic defect can be treated with drugs
16. Unborn children can be tested for genetic diseases offering reassurance to parents
17. The Human Genome Project is also concerned with looking at what makes us what we are
18. Because of the Human Genome Project eventually all of today’s diseases will be eradicated
Questions 19-22

Complete the summary below.  

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in 19-22 on your answer sheet.

Research into genetic defects had its first success in the discovery of the cause of one-form of . The second success of research into genetic defects was to find the cause of . Soon the Human Genome Project and its objective of the entire genome became increasingly popular. If it is used properly, the new knowledge generated by the Human Genome Project could free us from the terrible of diverse diseases.

Questions 23-25

Answer the questions below.

Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 23-25 on your answer sheet.

23. how many books would be required to write out the human genome on paper?

24. What is the commonest genetic disorder among Caucasians?

25. What is the most common single-gene disorder in the world?


Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


  • help Learn how to HIGHLIGHT & ADD NOTES
    1. HOLD LEFT CLICK
    2. DRAG MOUSE OVER TEXT
    3. RIGHT CLICK SELECTED TEXT

Human Genome Project

Sometimes referred to as the “Holy Grail” of modern studies in biology, the ambitious Human Genome Project is estimated to cost over £2 billion. In fact, many consider this to be one of the biggest scientific projects undertaken since the Apollo Programme landed a man on the moon. Unlike the relatively short time span for completing those famous lunar missions, the Human Genome Project will likely take longer, with an estimated completion set for early next century. But this is no matter, because according to those involved with this project, it is likely to result in many developments in health and medicine long before its ultimate completion. Those working within the Human Genome Project speak of its potential contribution to breakthroughs in cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, as well as many psychiatric illnesses.

Although the Human Genome Project is incredibly vast in scope, its mission statement is simple. This project aims to map, then examine each and every individual gene within the double helix in human DNA. As a result, a new human anatomy will come to light -- not the skeleton, the muscles or the nerves -- but, for the first time, a comprehensive blueprint for a human DNA. A transformation in the way which we see fields such as medicine is one benefit which may be possible, as well as reducing overall human suffering in the twenty-first century and beyond. Nonetheless, there are some critics of the project who fear a darker outlook for outcome of the project, with some going as far as to claim that it could lead to “Frankenstein” monsters of hybrid DNA, or worse, a rise in the popularity of inhumane practices such as eugenics.

From the moment of conception, a baby will already have received the very DNA which will impact later-development, determining characteristics such as eye color, as well as the possibility of being born with a genetically-linked illness, such as cystic fibrosis. The human genome itself is an interactive collection of all our genetic instructions. The double helix of DNA contains the chemical letters of our genetic text. This genetic text is incredibly long. In fact, our genome contains more than 3 billion letters, filling about 7,000 volumes of printed page. In just over ten years, researchers of the human genome will have tracked down, analysed and recorded the position of every letter, as well as its relation neighbouring letters.

In relation to just how many letters there are in the human genome, it seems that nature is usually an effective proofreader, finding and correcting most mutations before they happen. Not all errors in genetics are corrected, though. An error in a single ‘word’ — or a gene – can have drastic effects on the human body, resulting in genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, one of the most common among Caucasians. What’s more, in the genetic recipe for haemoglobin, a protein which gives blood its red colour as it carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, errors can lead to the most common single-gene disorder in the world: thalassaemia. Over 4,000 other single-gene defects have also been found to afflict humans. Most of these defects are fatal, with the majority of the victims being children.

These single-gene disorders are not considered diseases by our conventional understanding, as there is no way for us to administer a cure for them. Instead, the defect is pre-programmed into every cell of the body by their genetic code. However, some progress in this area has happened. For example, 1986, American researchers located the genetic defect which results in one type of muscular dystrophy. In 1989, American and Canadian biologists teamed up to research this, later announcing their discovery of a site of a gene which can become defective, leading to cystic fibrosis. Indeed, not only had they identified the gene, they had analysed the sequence of letters within it, discovering the error which leads to this unfortunate condition. These scientific advances could provide medical professionals with new ways to screen parents who could be at risk of transmitting such a single-gene defect to potential offspring. Foetuses tested while in the womb may then be found free of any possible genetic defects.

In the mid-1980s, scientists became more interested in these techniques, excited by the idea of successfully deciphering disorder-related genes, and perhaps applying their findings towards a larger project: if it’s possible to learn the genetic spelling disorders like cystic fibrosis, why not try to discover how ‘human’ is spelled? From there, the Human Genome Project gained traction, leading science towards this objective of ‘sequencing’ the complete human genome — recording every letter in proper order.

Some issues persist within the Human Genome Project which extend past this original focus on disease. There are supporters have made extravagant claims – stating that at the most fundamental level, the Project will allow us to discover what it is to be human. Those concerned with this emphasis on humanity’s genetic constitution fear such a discovery could instead twist our sense of values, and urge researchers to remember that human life is more valuable than expressions of genetics written in the chemistry of DNA.

New knowledge generated by the Human Genome Project may allow humanity to break free from the many debilitating diseases if applied with care. However, if such information falls into the wrong hands, it may pose a threat to many, giving rise to new forms of discrimination or oppression. Some intrinsic characteristics, such as physical size and intelligence, do not come from interaction of genes alone, but are also subtly impacted by a person’s environment. If, by some possibility, humans were to precisely understand the genetic constitution and environment that may predispose a person towards a higher intelligence, what exactly would the implications of this be?

Within this century, the boundless curiosity of scientists has discovered the nature of the power of the atom, a discovery which has impacted the fate of entire nations, opening doors to nuclear technology which has changed the course of human history. The Human Genome Project carries a similar weight, its completion suggesting that ultimately, humans might control their genetic inheritance. Ethically, there is a problem here: how can humans be sure that these future possible decisions are made with morality in mind? The potential of this power is great, and it is vital that people do not forget the events of history as the Human Genome Project evolves.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Human Genome Project

Sometimes referred to as the “Holy Grail” of modern studies in biology, the ambitious Human Genome Project is estimated to cost over £2 billion. In fact, many consider this to be one of the biggest scientific projects undertaken since the Apollo Programme landed a man on the moon. Unlike the relatively short time span for completing those famous lunar missions, the Human Genome Project will likely take longer, with an estimated completion set for early next century. But this is no matter, because according to those involved with this project, it is likely to result in many developments in health and medicine long before its ultimate completion. Those working within the Human Genome Project speak of its potential contribution to breakthroughs in cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, as well as many psychiatric illnesses.

Although the Human Genome Project is incredibly vast in scope, its mission statement is simple. This project aims to map, then examine each and every individual gene within the double helix in human DNA. As a result, a new human anatomy will come to light -- not the skeleton, the muscles or the nerves -- but, for the first time, a comprehensive blueprint for a human DNA. A transformation in the way which we see fields such as medicine is one benefit which may be possible, as well as reducing overall human suffering in the twenty-first century and beyond. Nonetheless, there are some critics of the project who fear a darker outlook for outcome of the project, with some going as far as to claim that it could lead to “Frankenstein” monsters of hybrid DNA, or worse, a rise in the popularity of inhumane practices such as eugenics.

From the moment of conception, a baby will already have received the very DNA which will impact later-development, determining characteristics such as eye color, as well as the possibility of being born with a genetically-linked illness, such as cystic fibrosis. The human genome itself is an interactive collection of all our genetic instructions. The double helix of DNA contains the chemical letters of our genetic text. This genetic text is incredibly long. In fact, our genome contains more than 3 billion letters, filling about 7,000 volumes of printed page. In just over ten years, researchers of the human genome will have tracked down, analysed and recorded the position of every letter, as well as its relation neighbouring letters.

In relation to just how many letters there are in the human genome, it seems that nature is usually an effective proofreader, finding and correcting most mutations before they happen. Not all errors in genetics are corrected, though. An error in a single ‘word’ — or a gene – can have drastic effects on the human body, resulting in genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, one of the most common among Caucasians. What’s more, in the genetic recipe for haemoglobin, a protein which gives blood its red colour as it carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, errors can lead to the most common single-gene disorder in the world: thalassaemia. Over 4,000 other single-gene defects have also been found to afflict humans. Most of these defects are fatal, with the majority of the victims being children.

These single-gene disorders are not considered diseases by our conventional understanding, as there is no way for us to administer a cure for them. Instead, the defect is pre-programmed into every cell of the body by their genetic code. However, some progress in this area has happened. For example, 1986, American researchers located the genetic defect which results in one type of muscular dystrophy. In 1989, American and Canadian biologists teamed up to research this, later announcing their discovery of a site of a gene which can become defective, leading to cystic fibrosis. Indeed, not only had they identified the gene, they had analysed the sequence of letters within it, discovering the error which leads to this unfortunate condition. These scientific advances could provide medical professionals with new ways to screen parents who could be at risk of transmitting such a single-gene defect to potential offspring. Foetuses tested while in the womb may then be found free of any possible genetic defects.

In the mid-1980s, scientists became more interested in these techniques, excited by the idea of successfully deciphering disorder-related genes, and perhaps applying their findings towards a larger project: if it’s possible to learn the genetic spelling disorders like cystic fibrosis, why not try to discover how ‘human’ is spelled? From there, the Human Genome Project gained traction, leading science towards this objective of ‘sequencing’ the complete human genome — recording every letter in proper order.

Some issues persist within the Human Genome Project which extend past this original focus on disease. There are supporters have made extravagant claims – stating that at the most fundamental level, the Project will allow us to discover what it is to be human. Those concerned with this emphasis on humanity’s genetic constitution fear such a discovery could instead twist our sense of values, and urge researchers to remember that human life is more valuable than expressions of genetics written in the chemistry of DNA.

New knowledge generated by the Human Genome Project may allow humanity to break free from the many debilitating diseases if applied with care. However, if such information falls into the wrong hands, it may pose a threat to many, giving rise to new forms of discrimination or oppression. Some intrinsic characteristics, such as physical size and intelligence, do not come from interaction of genes alone, but are also subtly impacted by a person’s environment. If, by some possibility, humans were to precisely understand the genetic constitution and environment that may predispose a person towards a higher intelligence, what exactly would the implications of this be?

Within this century, the boundless curiosity of scientists has discovered the nature of the power of the atom, a discovery which has impacted the fate of entire nations, opening doors to nuclear technology which has changed the course of human history. The Human Genome Project carries a similar weight, its completion suggesting that ultimately, humans might control their genetic inheritance. Ethically, there is a problem here: how can humans be sure that these future possible decisions are made with morality in mind? The potential of this power is great, and it is vital that people do not forget the events of history as the Human Genome Project evolves.

 
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