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Lab makes DNA clones shipped worldwide for study (February 14, 2001)

Under the direction of Pieter de Jong, PhD, human DNA was cloned in bacteria and stored. The DNA samples are stored in 40 large refrigerators with temperatures of –80 C at the lab, ready to be shipped to research centers throughout the world. This “library” of DNA has been the source for the vast majority (85%) of the DNA analyzed by the National Institutes of Health Human Genome Project.

“While the messages have been read, these clones will continue to be analyzed,” Pieter said. “They will continue to be used by more and more scientists for many years to come.”

Pieter and his team will be collecting more DNA samples and cloning them for other research centers. “This research can lead to discovering more about genetic diseases in the hope of finding cures,” he said.

In addition, the NIH has committed to use CHORI’s mice DNA clones for decoding.
“Though it may be hard to believe,” Pieter said, “human DNA and the DNA of a mouse have much in common. These studies have the potential to benefit us all.” By studying genes of other species and comparing that to those of a human, much can be learned.

CHORI also has cloned the DNA of several other animals. In the near future, CHORI will receive blood from a Rhesus Macaque to clone its DNA. A small amount of blood, 20 to 40 ml, is collected from the animal to use to make the DNA samples.
“There is a drive to learn how proteins and genes have evolved so we can understand them better,” said Pieter. “By looking at different species and comparing, for example, the breast cancer gene or the Alzheimer’s gene, we can learn more about how to develop pharmaceuticals and methods to treat these diseases.”

Pieter’s work on the Human Genome Project began several years ago when he was in New York at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. His lab collected blood samples from 10 men and 10 women. So that no one would know whose DNA was to be mapped, all but two—one woman’s and one man’s--- were discarded and these two, selected at random, were analyzed. He has continued and expanded his work with the project since his arrival at CHORI a little over one year ago.


Monday, May 16, 2011 11:33 PM

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