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International consortium launches genetic variation mapping project

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2002 An international research consortium today launched an approximately $100 million public-private effort to create the next generation map of the human genome. Called the International HapMap Project, this new venture is aimed at speeding the discovery of genes related to common illnesses such as asthma, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Expected to take three years to complete, the HapMap will chart genetic variation within the human genome. By comparing genetic differences among individuals, consortium members believe they can create a tool to help researchers detect the genetic contributions to many diseases. Where the Human Genome Project provided the foundation on which researchers are making dramatic genetic discoveries, the HapMap will begin to make the results of genomic research applicable to individuals.

"The HapMap promises to accelerate medical research around the globe in many different ways," said Yusuke Nakamura, M.D., Ph.D., director of the University of Tokyo's Human Genome Center, as well as leader of the RIKEN SNP Center and the Japanese group working on the HapMap. "Not only will it lead to the identification of genes related to disease, it should help to pinpoint genes that influence how individuals react to various medications discoveries that could improve drug design and lead to the development of diagnostic tools aimed at preventing adverse drug reactions."

To create the HapMap, DNA will be taken from blood samples collected by researchers in Nigeria, Japan, China and the United States. Initially, researchers will work with samples from between 200 and 400 people in widely distributed geographic regions. Samples will be collected from the Yorubas in Nigeria, Japanese, Han Chinese and U.S. residents with ancestry from northern and western Europe. A very careful sampling strategy has been developed to ensure that participants can give full informed consent. No medical or personal id
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
29-Oct-2002


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