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International Initiative to Understand the Function of All Genes Has Started

The Conditional Mouse Mutagenesis Program EUCOMM, funded by the European Union with € 13 million, and its Canadian partner project NorCOMM are getting support from the US: today, 7 September, the Knockout Mouse Project (KOMP) of the American National Institutes of Health (NIH) was launched. In close cooperation the three big projects want to mutate practically all genes of the mouse genome, in order to be able to understand the function of all genes with the help of mouse models.

European scientists have been pioneers in this initiative, the structure of which is going to be similar to that of the International Human Genome Project carried out earlier. Since the beginning of the year EUCOMM has already been producing mutated mouse genes in embryonic stem cells of the mouse, which will soon be made freely available to the scientific community. From these cells mouse models can be generated for all human diseases with genetic causes.

The European program is coordinated by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wurst, Director of the Institute of Developmental Genetics at the GSF – National Research Center for Environment and Health, Munich/Neuherberg, Germany. Wurst, his team, and the German Gene Trap Consortium (GGTC), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in the past developed part of the methods applied in the new projects and, thereby, made EUCOMM possible in the first place.

The methods used for the mutation of the mouse genes are conditional gene trapping and gene targeting technologies, which allow a particularly precise modelling of genetic diseases in the mouse, i.e. of Morbus Parkinson, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and others.

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»EUCOMM »diseases

EUCOMM raises the production of mouse models to a new level, because the models can now be generated in a coordinated manner as well as faster, more easily and at lower cost than in the past. This means that the decipherment of the mechanisms of all genetically caused diseases is becoming tangible.

Michael van den Heuvel | alfa
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