8th May 2001

Of mice and men - First phase of mouse genome sequencing project completed

Publicly Available Data Expected to Speed Medical Discovery

The Mouse Sequencing Consortium (MSC), announced today (Tuesday 8th May) that it has completed the first phase of reading the mouse 'book of life', reaching its goal on time and within budget.

The $58 million (£40 million) collaboration on the mouse genome was initiated in October 2000 and has taken just 6 months to generate '3x' coverage - where each of the 3 billion 'letters' of the genome is 'read' three times. The sequence now covers an estimated 94% of the mouse genome.

The MSC is a collaboration between public and private organizations--the US National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust and three private companies--Glaxo SmithKline, the Merck Genome Research Institute and Affymetrix, Inc.

Dr Mike Dexter, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "This represents a landmark on a journey that will allow researchers all over the world to create new models of disease and to test potential therapies. Congratulations to the scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre, who have made the British contribution to the mouse sequencing project. Yet again, the collaborative effort of scientists, supported by government, industry and the Trust, has been rapidly rewarded, and the success of the project suggests that such collaborations should be a model for the future."

Mice are one of the most widely used animal models for diseases, and knowledge of the mouse genome will allow researchers to study the functions of genes in health and illness, and test the effectiveness of novel therapies. Comparison of DNA sequences from mice and humans--two genetically similar animals--will also help researchers interpret human genome data, allowing them to identify previously unrecognised genes and regions that control their activity.

"This is a great day for finding genes in the human," says Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. "Comparing mouse sequence to human sequence will help identify previously unknown human genes. This is essentially using evolution's "lab notebook" to understand how the genome works. Now we need to finish the work so the mouse sequence is as accurate and complete as the human sequence."

As with the public Human Genome Project, the MSC is committed to finishing the mouse genome sequence. Throughout both projects, the data have been made freely available without restriction to researchers across the world.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Cambridgeshire, funded by the Trust and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), have developed new tools to provide access to the sequence of the mouse and to align mouse genes with genes in the human sequence announced in June 2000.

  2. The Trust has invested £8 million to set up and run Ensembl, which is managed jointly by the Wellcome Trust's Sanger Centre and the European Bioinformatics Institute (whose parent organisation, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, also provides some Ensembl support). The Trust also funded the UK contribution to the Human Genome Project with £210 million.

  3. Members of the Mouse Sequencing Consortium and their contributions to the effort are The Foundation for NIH acted as the fiscal agent for the private contributions to this novel public-private partnership.

  4. The DNA sequencing work was conducted at
  5. The mouse sequence data can be found in either of two public databases:
  6. The Wellcome Trust is an independent, research-funding charity, established under the will of Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936. It is funded from a private endowment, which is managed with long-term stability and growth in mind. The Trust's mission is to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health.

  7. The public human data are available at:
  8. Other information on the Human Genome Project is available at:

For more information contact:

Don Powell
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre
(01223) 494956; Mobile: (0788) 4188243
don@sanger.ac.uk


Shaun Griffin
Wellcome Trust 
(020) 7611 8612
s.griffin@wellcome.ac.uk


Mary Prescott
The Mouse Sequencing Consortium
001-312-397-6604
mprescott@bsmg.com


Rick Koenig
Glaxo Smith Kline
001-610-270-5546
Rick_M_Koenig@sbphrd.com


Kathryn Munoz
Merck Genome Research Institute
001-908-423-6492
kathryn_munoz@merck.com


Affymetrix, Inc.
Anne Bowdidge
001-408-731-5925
anne_bowdidge@affymetrix.com


Larry Thompson
National Human Genome Research Institute
001-301-594-0954
thompsl@mail.nih.gov

Contact the Press Office

Don Powell Media and Public Relations Manager
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambs, CB10 1SA, UK

Tel +44 (0)1223 496 928
Mobile +44 (0)7753 775 397
Fax +44 (0)1223 494 919
Email press.office@sanger.ac.uk

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