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First human genome map completed.

First human genome map completed

Researchers have successfully mapped the relative positions of more than 400 genetic "markers' on all 46 human chromosomes, completing the first genetic linkage map of the entire human genome. The linkage map is an important first stage in the development of a more detailed gene-sequence map. Scientists hope that such a map may someday pinpoint all 100,000 or so genes that contain the human complement of hereditary material.

Even before such a detailed map is completed--a project expected to take many years and billions of dollars--the new linkage map is expected to help researchers identify and devise prenatal tests for a number of inherited diseases. In particular, the map will make it possible to identify diseases that are the result of two or more genes. Scientists suspect that heart disease, some cancers, certain mental illnesses and other common disorders may have such multiple genetic roots. Until now, however, it has been impossible to unravel the complicated inheritance patterns of these diseases.

"What strikes me is how rapidly this whole thing has come together,' says Helen Donis-Keller, senior researcher with Collaborative Research, the Bedford, Mass.-based biotechnology company that spearheaded the four-year mapping effort. "A few months ago we had a whole lot of little islands, specks. All of a sudden, the whole thing converged. Suddenly we have good maps.'

The research is to appear in the Oct. 23 CELL.
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Author:Weiss, Rick
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 17, 1987
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