SEATTLE - A Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center geneticist asserts in the June issue of Nature Genetics that building a detailed map of the human genome will take significantly more time and resources than previously estimated.
While current gene-mapping efforts target the identification of 400,000 genetic markers to help locate common disease genes, many more such signposts must be found before the map can be considered a truly useful tool for pharmaceutical research and development, says the paper's author, Dr. Leonid Kruglyak. "An essential issue yet to be settled is the required marker density for such maps," writes Kruglyak, an associate member of the Hutchinson Center's divisions of Human Biology and Public Health Sciences.
Kruglyak predicts researchers instead will need to locate at least half a million such "mile markers"along the DNA highway if geneticists are to stay on track when chasing down genes that influence characteristics such as disease susceptibility and drug response.
"People may be disappointed in my conclusion, because it implies we're going to have to work that much harder, but it is simply a prediction for what resources will actually be needed to accomplish the task ahead of us," says Kruglyak, an expert in using powerful statistical and computational tools to tease out genetic components of common "diseases of civilization" such as cancer and heart disease.
"The technology for doing this - typing potentially thousands of individuals for half a million genetic markers - really needs to be developed much further than where it is today," he says.
The publication of Kruglyak's paper comes on the heels of the establishment of
the SNP Consortium, an unprecedented collaboration between industry and academia
to create a finely detailed map of the human genome. Comprised of 10 of the
world's largest drug companies, a major British charity and a handful of
academic genetics laboratories, this nonprofit alliance, annou
Contact: Kristen Woodward
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center