AR-News: (U.S.) rat genome & toxicity testing
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Tue Apr 6 11:29:50 EDT 2004
RAT GENOME REVEALS SUPERCHARGED EVOLUTION
The Scientist, April 6, 2004
complete article at:
Journal reference: Nature (vol 428, p 493)
NewScientist.com 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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