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New "Gene Map" Doubles Number Of Genes

With Roughly Half Of All Human Genes, New Map Upgrades Accuracy And Usefulness Of Genetic Information Will Speed Pace Of Research

(BETHESDA, MD)--A team of 64 scientists from government, university and commercial laboratories around the world achieved a new milestone in the Human Genome Project by collaborating to produce a new 'gene map' pinpointing the chromosomal locations of almost half of all genes. This GeneMap'98 compilation is available on the Internet and will greatly expedite the discovery of human disease genes, which can result in advances in detection and treatment of common illnesses. It will also complement human genome sequencing by highlighting 'gene-rich' regions of the chromosomes.

Construction of GeneMap'98 was spearheaded by scientists at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a branch of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health, together with the Sanger Centre, a British genome center funded by the Wellcome Trust. According to Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., director of the NLM, this new map charts the chromosomal locations of 30,181 human genes, about twice the number that had previously been localized. In addition, the mapping accuracy has been improved by 2-3 times compared to the earlier version of the map, released in October of 1996.

The map provides an important scientific infrastructure for understanding how genes interact with one other to maintain normal health and how defects in those genes can lead to common illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Researchers around the world can tap into the GeneMap'98 data through a web site developed at the NCBI (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genemap).

"By any standard, it's a tremendous step forward," commented James D. Watson, Ph.D., President of the Cold
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Contact: Robert Mehnert
publicinfo@nlm.nih.gov
301-496-6308
NIH/National Library of Medicine
7-Oct-1998


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