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NIH News: Researchers Assemble Second Non-Human Primate Genome

From a February 9th NIH press release:

A multi-center team has deposited the draft genome sequence of the rhesus macaque monkey into free public databases for use by the worldwide research community, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today.

The rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is the second non-human primate, after the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), to have its genome sequenced, and is the first of the Old World monkeys to have its DNA deciphered. Overall, the rhesus genome shares about 92 to 95 percent of its sequence with the human (Homo sapiens) and more than 98 percent with the chimpanzee. Consequently, the rhesus provides an ideal reference point for comparisons among the three closely related primates. Sequencing is also underway on the genomes of a number of other primates, including the orangutan, marmoset and gorilla.

(complete press release at above link)

Soybean DNA to be sequenced

A press release from the US Department of Energy announced that the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture will be working together to study “plant and microbial genomics, and the Department of Energy will tackle the sequencing of the soybean genome as the first project resulting from the agreement.”
Read the press release here.

Working on a cure for hepatitis C

Today the Washington Post reported that two Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech firms reported impressive results from hepatitis C studies. “Vertex, developing what many experts perceive to be the most potent of the new hepatitis medicines, said yesterday that when the pill was combined in a small, early-stage study with an existing treatment, the drug cut the amount of hepatitis C virus in patients’ bodies to a minuscule fraction of its prior level in just two weeks of treatment. In past studies, dramatic drops in the amount of virus have been a prelude to cures in many patients, but it has often taken months if it happened at all.” Read the story here.

Update on South Korean stem cell research investigation

Today the Washington Post reported that “at least nine of the [eleven] customized stem cell colonies that Hwang had claimed to have made earlier this year were fakes” and that the two that do exist were not genetic matches harvested from patients, but were taken from a fertility clinic’s embryos. What’s more, several money transfers to Korean researchers appear to be part of an attempt to cover up the deception. Additional investigations, both into Hwang’s Snuppy cloning (published August 2005) and his cloning of human stem cells (published March 2004), are being conducted. Read the story here.

Cancer Genome Atlas Project

The joint project between the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute, announced yesterday at a press conference, is “the first attempt to leverage the mapping of the genome.” The goal of the three-year pilot program is “to speed up effective target treatments for cancer.”
Read the Washington Post’s article about the project here and the AP report here.