Transatlantic cooperation creating world's largest genome bank
The European Commission, US National Institutes of Health
and Genome Canada are co-funding a global collaborative research
programme aiming at creating mutant mouse lines in every single
gene present in the mouse genome. The goal is to better understand
the ways a single gene influences the health and well-being
of mice by deleting, or “knocking out”, individual
genes. Through the study of the mouse genome, researchers
expect to gain invaluable insight into disease processes in
humans, as mice and humans share 99 percent of their genetic
code. In addition to the current initiative, the EU has invested
over €135 million since 2002 in mouse functional genomics,
easily putting Europe at the forefront of genomic research.
mouse genome holds a wealth of information regarding
human diseases, though unlocking it won't
Researchers plan to make each mutant line of mouse created through
the international project publicly available to all scientists.
By conducting the experiment on such a large scale, experts
will generate the modified mice in a standardised and cost-effective
A recent Nature article on the initiative notes that
similar such experiments are not widely reported due to the
fact that they are often carried out in the private sector.
It goes on the say that out of the 4 000 mutant K.O. lines that
have been published, only 1 000 are open to public use.
“There isn't a common mechanism in place to enforce
deposition of K.O. mouse lines into public repositories,”
Wolfgang Wurst, coordinator of the European Conditional Knockout
Mouse Mutagenesis (EUCOMM) initiative, told Nature.
So, experts decided to “generate a comprehensive and public
resource of mouse mutant lines,” Nature reports.
This international collaborative project is one of the largest research endeavours ever conceived, second only to the Human Genome Project, to produce mutations in all the mouse genes. The project will target around 20 000 individual genes.
This world-wide mouse mutagenesis collaborative effort networks
three major initiatives: The EUCOMM project financed by the
European Commission with €13 million, the NorCOMM project
which received €4.4 million from the Canadian government
and the Knockout Mouse Project (KOMP) project financed by the
US-NIH with €39.2 million.
In addition, the European Commission also supports (€12
million) a new project: European Mouse Disease Clinic (EUMODIC)
to be launched in February 2007. EUMODIC aims at the detailed
molecular analysis of a large number (>600) of these newly created
mouse K.O. mutants lines.
The mouse experiments will give researchers the opportunity to mimic human diseases, and ultimately speed up drug development to fight those diseases.