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Computer Program For Quicker, More Detailed Mapping

STANFORD--Researchers at the Stanford Human Genome Center have developed a powerful new computer program that can map thousands of genetic markers at once. Using this program, called Mapper, scientists have obtained one of the most accurate views yet of the human genome as a whole.

"These maps have better resolution in local areas than the other available whole genome maps," said Dr. David Cox, professor of genetics and co-director of the Stanford Human Genome Center. "The others can tell you what block the house is on, but we can give the exact address."

Mapper produces high-quality genetic maps that will dramatically advance the efforts of the Human Genome Project, whose goal is to map and sequence the genetic blueprint that contains all of the instructions about how to make a human body, said Richard Myers, professor of genetics and director of the Stanford Human Genome Center.

"Previously, it would take months for us to build a map," said Myers. "Now we can rebuild it every day, including new information as it is gathered. Our maps are now much more accurate because we can map everything at once."

The Stanford team that developed Mapper will present the new method, this week, along with the maps it has generated, at the Genome Mapping and Sequencing meeting at Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., May 8-12.

To get an idea of the challenge confronting gene mappers, imagine constructing a map of the world knowing only that Palo Alto is close to San Francisco, Paris and Frankfurt are both in Europe, and Johannesburg and Nairobi are on the same continent.

Gene mappers use short, distinctive genetic markers found in DNA as signposts in the human genome. Markers that are close together remain on the same piece of DNA when scientists cut the long strands into small pieces. Using statistics to count how often particular pairs of markers remain together, computers can measure the distances between them and can determine their
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Contact: Mike Goodkind
ma.meg@forsythe.stanford.edu
Stanford University Medical Center
13-May-1996


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