Thursday, September 07, 2006

Knockout Mice are the Bomb!

From an NIH press release from earlier today:

NIH Launches Knockout Mouse Project
Genome-Wide Public Resource Will Provide New Mouse Models for Understanding Human Disease


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today awarded a set of cooperative agreements, totaling up to $52 million over five years, to launch the Knockout Mouse Project. The goal of this program is to build a comprehensive and publicly available resource of knockout mutations in the mouse genome. The knockout mice produced from this resource will be extremely useful for the study of human disease.

The NIH Knockout Mouse Project will work closely with other large-scale efforts to produce knockouts that are underway in Canada, called the North American Conditional Mouse Mutagenesis Project (NorCOMM), and in Europe, called the European Conditional Mouse Mutagenesis Program (EUCOMM). The objective of all these programs is to create a mutation in each of the approximately 20,000 protein-coding genes in the mouse genome.

“Knockout mice are powerful tools for exploring the function of genes and creating animal models of human disease. By enabling more researchers to study these knockouts, this trans-NIH initiative will accelerate our efforts to translate basic research findings into new strategies for improving human health,” said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. “It is exciting that so many components of NIH have joined together to support this project, and that the NIH Knockout Mouse Project will be working hand-in-hand with other international efforts. This is scientific teamwork at its best.”

Knockout mice are lines of mice in which specific genes have been completely disrupted, or “knocked out.” Systematic disruption of each of the 20,000 genes in the mouse genome will allow researchers to determine the role of each gene in normal physiology and development. Even more importantly, researchers will use knockout mice to develop better models of inherited human diseases such as cancer, heart disease, neurological disorders, diabetes and obesity. Recent advances in recombinant DNA technologies, as well as completion of the mouse genome sequence, now make this project feasible.

NIH today awarded five-year cooperative agreements totaling up to $47.2 million to two groups for the creation of the knockout mice lines. Recipients of those awards are Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in Tarrytown, N.Y., and a collaborative team from Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) in Oakland, Calif.; the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis (UC Davis); and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, England.

In addition, NIH awarded another five-year cooperative agreement totaling $2.5 million to the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine for the establishment of a NIH Knockout Mouse Project data coordination center. Finally, NIH awarded cooperative agreements to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and to the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto to improve the efficiency of methods for creating knockout lines. Those agreements total about $2.5 million and run for three and two years, respectively.

[ ... Read the full release ... ]

NIH Knockout Mouse Project website
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Anthony H. Risser | |

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