Genetic studies of special mice could lead to rapid human health advances

Genetic information provided by a large group of specially-designed mice could pave the way to faster human health discoveries and transform the ways people battle and prevent disease.

In 15 papers published Feb. 16 in the Genetics Society of America journals Genetics and G3:/Genomes/Genetics, researchers from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The Jackson Laboratory and other universities and labs across the globe highlight a new that could aid development of more effective treatments for any number of human diseases.

The resource, known as the Collaborative Cross (CC), is a reference manual of contained in hundreds of specially-bred mice and their genetic sequences. The CC mice have much more genetic variation than normal , and thus more closely mirror the genetic complexity found in humans.

Moreover, the mice and their genetic sequences will be publicly available, allowing researchers around the world to work with mice that have particular genetic variations.

"If you can't mimic the variation in people, you can't necessarily use mouse findings to understand more about human disease," says Dr. David Threadgill, professor and department head of genetics at NC State who originally proposed the idea for the CC project a decade ago and who serves as one of the project leaders. Threadgill is also a member of the University of North Carolina's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Threadgill developed the idea for the CC in order to harness the power of so-called whole genome studies that examine all genes at once instead of subsets of genes. Complex interactions between large numbers of genes frequently govern traits and behavior. Learning more about these interactions could help researchers tease out links between certain genes and certain diseases, for example.

In one of the 15 papers, Threadgill and corresponding author Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, identify key genes involved in red and white blood cell counts and red blood cell volume. These hematological parameters are important indicators of health and disease.

Related Stories

Mouse genetic blueprint developed

Sep 14, 2011

Researchers have developed a valuable mouse genetic blueprint that will accelerate future research and understanding of human genetics. The international team, led by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger ...

Mouse DNA to aid biomedical research

Oct 25, 2006

Researchers announced today that they have successfully resequenced the DNA of 15 mouse strains most commonly used in biomedical research. More than 8.3 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were discovered among ...

Rogue receptor opens door for rare kidney disease

Sep 25, 2011

Effects of a particularly devastating human kidney disease may be blunted by making a certain cellular protein receptor much less receptive, according to new research by scientists from North Carolina State University and ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover an on/off switch for aging cells

13 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered an on-and-off "switch" in cells that may hold the key to healthy aging. This switch points to a way to encourage healthy cells to keep dividing ...

Gene variant that dramatically reduces 'bad' lipids

Sep 16, 2014

In the first study to emerge from the UK10K Project's cohort of samples from the general public, scientists have identified a rare genetic variant that dramatically reduces levels of certain types of lipids in the blood. ...

New diagnostic method identifies genetic diseases

Sep 16, 2014

People with genetic diseases often have to embark on an odyssey from one doctor to the next. Fewer than half of all patients who are suspected of having a genetic disease actually receive a satisfactory diagnosis. Scientists ...

User comments