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North Carolina-based genetic resources fuel big scientific progress
Date:2/16/2012

A series of 15 scientific papers published this week in the journals of the Genetics Society of America (Genetics and G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics) put North Carolina at the epicenter of a scientific resource called the Collaborative Cross a "library" of genetic diversity that scientists believe can help fast-track important discoveries about genetics and disease into new discoveries, tests, and treatments that impact human health.

Researchers have long been frustrated by promising lab results that hit obstacles on the road to human application. Sometimes this is because research in other living organisms is very limited in terms of what conclusions scientists can safely extrapolate to the human population as a whole. One reason for this problem is that organisms studied in the laboratory lack the genetic diversity of humans.

To overcome this obstacle, scientists have begun to create libraries of genetic material. These libraries called Genetic Resource Panels (GRPs) enable researchers to look at how genetic variation impacts living systems in a careful and systematic manner an approach that they think will help draw more robust conclusions, often more quickly.

The Collaborative Cross, a project aimed at mirroring the diversity of human genetics in the laboratory mouse population, is one such GRP. The Collaborative Cross contains ten times the genetic diversity of a typical laboratory mouse population a level equivalent to the natural genetic variation in humans. Furthermore, the genetic diversity is spread out across the genome of the Collaborative Cross, while the limited ancestry of typical laboratory mice means that about half of the genome lacks good data for geneticists. The Collaborative Cross fills in those gaps, and the result for scientists is a fast track to understanding and testing new treatment and prevention approaches for numerous human diseases with an underlying genetic component.

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Contact: Ellen de Graffenreid
edegraff@med.unc.edu
919-962-3405
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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