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International HapMap consortium expands mapping effort

9.9 percent identical at the genetic level, understanding the one-tenth of one percent difference is important because it helps explain why one person may be more susceptible to a certain disease than another. For any given disease, such as type II diabetes or coronary artery disease, researchers can use the HapMap to compare the genetic variation patterns of a group of people known to have the disease with a group of people without the disease. Finding a certain pattern more often in people with the disease identifies a genomic region that may contain genes contributing to the condition. Because the Phase II HapMap will be so detailed, researchers will be able to use its SNP signposts to zero in on that particular genomic region and search for specific genes involved in that disorder. This approach can reduce the work and expense of searching the genome for hereditary factors in common disease by a factor of 20 to 40 compared with current, brute force approaches.

"This new partnership underscores the private sector's enthusiasm for the HapMap and its potential as a tool for the understanding of disease. The willingness of these firms to contribute to building an even better map follows the collaborative tradition established by The SNP Consortium," said Arthur Holden, chairman and chief executive of The SNP Consortium.

In addition to affecting risk of disease, genetic variation has been shown to affect the response of people to therapeutic drugs, toxic substances and environmental factors, and the HapMap can assist in the identification of those variants. Since not all genetic variants are deleterious, the HapMap also may be used to help to pinpoint genetic variations that contribute to good health, such as those protecting against infectious diseases or promoting longevity.

"We are excited by the opportunity to apply our technology to all publicly available SNPs. This effort is so important that Perlegen is willing to contribute some of its
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Source:NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute


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