With a 95 percent genomic similarity to humans, mice have long been used to learn about the genetic causes of human disease. Once researchers can shine a light on the genetic factors that cause disease in mice, they can start to develop prevention and treatment options to protect the human population.
But this process, called genetic mapping, is a long and difficult road, made more challenging by the 5% difference between the humans and lab mice. Now Prof. Fuad Iraqi of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine is closing the gap with an international project called Collaborative Cross. The project is developing lab mice with increased genetic diversity, making them more advantageous for genetic research related to human health.
The new population will offer 1,000 genetic strains within a fixed genotype the composite of the entire genetic makeup of an organism. This is a marked improvement on the previously existing 450 genetic strains of lab mice with varying genotypes, making Prof. Iraqi's new strain ideal for genetic mapping. And with these mice, researchers will be able to identify a gene associated with a particular disease within two to three years instead of the 10 to 15 years it takes now, says Prof. Iraqi.
The research has been published in the journals Nature, Nature Genetics, and Genome Research, and receives its primary funding from the Wellcome Trust in the UK. The project itself is a collaboration among Tel Aviv University, Oxford University in the UK, North Carolina State University in the US, and Perth University in Australia.
Expanding the family tree
Genetic determinants play an important role in a variety of conditions from diabetes and obesity to different types of cancers. For example, mutated forms of the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which can be genetically inherited, are associated with higher rates of breast and ovarian cancers. This kind of genetic diversi
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University