Of mice and men - First phase of mouse genome sequencing project completed
The Mouse Sequencing Consortium (MSC), announced today (Tuesday 8th May 2001) 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.
"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."
Dr Mike Dexter, Director of the Wellcome Trust
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. 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."
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute
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.