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Cat's Genome Map Purrfected

Blueprint of feline DNA could help humans, too, scientists say

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have sequenced the genome of the domestic cat (Felis catus), an advance they say will lead to health benefits for the popular pets and provide an excellent model for human disease.

A four-year-old Abyssinian cat named Cinnamon, whose lineage can be traced back several generations to Sweden, was the subject of the genome sequencing by scientists with the Cat Genome Project, based at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The project was authorized three years ago by the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute.

Domestic cats have more than 250 naturally occurring hereditary disorders, many of with are similar to genetic problems in humans. For example, Cinnamon's lineage carries a genetic mutation that causes a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa that can cause blindness. The disease also occurs in humans and affects about 1 in 3,500 Americans.

The domestic cat also serves as an excellent model for infectious diseases that affect humans, such as HIV/AIDS. Cats can be infected by feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which is a genetic relative of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS.

A report detailing the sequencing of the domestic cat genome is published in the journal Genome Research.

More information

The U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute has more about genomics.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, news release, Oct. 31, 2007

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