AR-News: (U.S.) rat genome & toxicity testing

Mary Finelli hello_itz_me at
Tue Apr 6 11:29:50 EDT 2004

The Scientist, April 6, 2004

complete article at:

Journal reference: Nature (vol 428, p 493) news service, 31 March 04

Roughly 200 years after being tamed, bred and adopted as science's favourite 
laboratory animal, the brown Norway rat has had its genome sequenced. It is 
only the third mammal after humans and mice to have its genetic plan read. 
Researchers say the feat will allow important human genes to be tracked down 
more quickly, for example those related to cardiovascular disease or 
behaviour, and will speed the creation of treatments for diseases. 
Comparisons between the genomes is also yielding tantalising insights into 
how each species evolved. The analysis has already shown, for example, that 
rats have been evolving faster than both humans and mice. "We find that 
rodent evolution is an order of magnitude faster than in humans," says 
Richard Gibbs of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and head 
of the sequencing effort.

By "knocking out" genes, it might be possible to genetically engineer rats 
so that their detox machinery is identical to ours, improving the predictive 
accuracy of toxicology and drug safety testing.

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