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Global genes and diseases project launched

4 November 2002
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 182

Scientists from six countries are to begin work on a major new project to identify human genetic variations associated with common diseases, it was announced last week. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has secured funding of $100 million over the next three years for the work, which has been dubbed the 'HapMap Project'. Researchers will study DNA samples from 200-400 people to try and uncover the genetic differences linked to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Since the publication of a consensus human genetic code two years ago, scientists have been seeking to identify the variations that predispose people to common diseases. The HapMap project will look for genetic markers that have been inherited together in a block over many generations, indicating that they are physically close to each other.

To identify these 'haplotype blocks', researchers will study people from China, Nigeria, Japan and the US. Between them, these populations are thought to represent the majority of human genetic variation. It is hoped that scientists will then be able to pinpoint genes involved in, for example, diabetes, by looking for slight differences in these haplotype blocks in people with the disease.

The project will build on recent efforts to pinpoint single-letter variations in the human genetic code, known as SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms). Scientists will be able to focus their attention on subsets of SNPs likely to be involved in a particular disease, once data from the HapMap project has narrowed down the regions of interest. As it becomes available, information from the project will be made available to the entire
scientific community via the Internet. 'Essentially, the HapMap is a very powerful shortcut that represents enormous long-term savings in studies of complex disease' said Dr David Bentley of the Sanger Institute in the UK.

Global project on genetic variation begins
The Washington Post |  29 October 2002
HapMap launched with pledges of $100 million
Science |  1 November 2002
Project will map genetic variations
Yahoo Daily News |  29 October 2002
15 January 2007 - by Dr Laura Bell 
By Dr Laura Bell: Research published in the journal Nature Genetics last week showed that variation between different ethnic groups, such as susceptibility to certain diseases, may be explained by variable gene expression. Samples collected for the International HapMap Project were used in the study. The HapMap was published last...
27 November 2006 - by Dr Laura Bell 
New research from 13 different research centres in Britain and the US has revealed an unsuspected amount of variation between each individual's DNA. The research, published simultaneously in the journals Nature, Nature Genetics and Genome Research gives a much more comprehensive picture of human genetic variation...
28 October 2005 - by BioNews 
An international team of scientists has published a map of human genetic variation, an achievement they say will speed the search for genes involved in conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. The 'HapMap' project, launched in 2002 by the International HapMap consortium, is looking at DNA samples from 270...
21 February 2005 - by BioNews 
US researchers have published a detailed map of key variations in our genetic make-up, information they say will help pinpoint genes involved in many common diseases. The team, based at Californian firm Perlegen Sciences, has identified and studied 1.58 million genetic 'markers' in 71 people from three different populations. The...
17 December 2004 - by BioNews 
An international consortium that aims to catalogue patterns of human genetic variation has dropped restrictions on the use of its data. The 'HapMap' project, launched in October 2002, is looking at DNA samples from 270 people from around the world, to help uncover the genetic differences linked to illnesses such...
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