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Genetic Mapping of Mouse Brain Complete 137

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the smart-roadmaps dept.
Vicissitude writes "A 3-D reference atlas of the genes that are active in the mouse brain is now complete. The atlas was declared finished on Tuesday, although scientists have been using it regularly for more than a year. The project was started in 2002 with $100 million from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen." From the article: "'Since mice and humans share more than 90 percent of genes, the Allen Brain Atlas has enormous potential for understanding human neurological diseases and disorders affecting more than 50 million Americans each year,' the Allen Institute for Brain Science said. These include Alzheimer's disease, which affects 4.5 million Americans, autism, which may occur in one in every 175 births, epilepsy, which affects 2.7 million Americans, schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease."
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Genetic Mapping of Mouse Brain Complete

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  • by chifut (998159) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:40PM (#16207351)
    this many million Americans, that many million Americans, does anybody else matter on this planet?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by O'Laochdha (962474)
      But the other people don't get them American grant money!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by doshell (757915)

        So if e.g. European researchers found a cure for AIDS and didn't share that knowledge with the USA because they had done it under a European grant, would you be happy to still be infected until you found the cure on your own?

        I'm going to be modded down by this, but it really takes a bigot to react the way you did. Your attitude is exactly the kind of thing the original poster was condemning (or maybe you're just a troll trying to get some entertainment).

        • by cyclop (780354) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:39PM (#16208149) Homepage Journal
          Hi. You are welcome in the magic world of sarcasm. I know, it can take a bit to get used to.
          • by doshell (757915)

            It might be sarcasm (and you saying it doesn't automatically make it so), but that doesn't do away with the fact that the attitude I was referring to is common.

        • by O'Laochdha (962474) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:25PM (#16208631) Journal
          Okay, first off, that was a joke.

          Seriously, though, it is somewhat important to emphasize the disease's effect on the US to get US grants. If we found a cure for AIDS, there's no doubt in my mind that we'd share it. However, if AIDS (or one of the diseases in question, or any other) were rare in the US, but more widespread overseas, it would be fairly difficult to get grants, and most scientists would spend their time on other, more lucrative things. Selfish, maybe, but I don't think there's a country in the world that doesn't put some degree of priority on domestic issues. And for all we talk about scientists only being interested in grants, they can't do their job without them.

          A better allegory would be: if no one in Japan (where the disease is rare) cared to look into a cure for AIDS, would we be happy to remain infected until a more afflicted country found the cure on its own?
          • by Spikeles (972972) * on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:31PM (#16208695)
            If we found a cure for AIDS, there's no doubt in my mind that we'd share it.
            Ahhahahahaha. You made me laugh.. *wipes tears* You are joking right? You are saying that in this day and age of patents/trademarks and corporate secrets they would share the biggest cash cow of the millenium! I think not.. they will milk it for every drop it's worth, you will have to pay the discoverers royalties whenever you produce it, if they even let you produce it, assuming they don't set up their own production plant. Imagine it.. The cure! You could charge whatever price you want, sell it on ebay! it'd be worth trillions, if you ever sell it, and if someone figures out the chemical breakdown and produces it you could sue their ass off for even more money.
            • Okay, "share" might be too strong a word. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, however, that it would be sold internationally. No corporation is evil enough to give up income just to screw the masses. My point is that it wouldn't be given exclusively to Americans.
            • by Cicero382 (913621)
              (SIGH!) BTW I *am* a biochemist, but not in thrall to any pharmaceutical concern. I have worked for them in the past.

              "Ahhahahahaha. You made me laugh.. *wipes tears* You are joking right? You are saying that in this day and age of patents/trademarks and corporate secrets they would share the biggest cash cow of the millenium! I think not.. they will milk it for every drop it's worth, you will have to pay the discoverers royalties whenever you produce it, if they even let you produce it, assuming they don'
              • by Spikeles (972972) *

                A common perception is that they just make huge profits from a line of drugs and that's it. No it isn't!

                I'm not saying that, i'm just saying that they would make huge profits off this particular drug. Otherwise i don't see the point of your post, you essentially agree with the two points i made. 1. The drug companies would be more interested in making insane profits from any cure for AIDS instead of making it because they feel some kind of moral obligation. 2. They wouldn't make the formula free ( as in

          • by doshell (757915)

            Okay, I'm glad to know you were only joking. It is really difficult to tell when so many people around here have such an arrogant attitude when it comes to the deeds of their countrymen. You are right in that grants are essential for the development of science to function, and those who grant them should be praised. I won't question that. My point was that the way the article was worded was american-centric (considering that the issue is not strictly a domestic problem) and, as others have noted in this thr

          • by swarsron (612788)
            "If we found a cure for AIDS, there's no doubt in my mind that we'd share it."

            Well, think again. There are combinations of medication which almost stops aids. You can't cure it but we're quite good at controlling it for a whole lifespan.
            The problem is that the medicaments are way to expensive for almost everyone in africa and so we'll see millions dying in the next years while people infected here (US, Europe) will live quite a normal life with aids.

            It's not like we keep it secret but we keep the price up s
            • The point is that we don't keep it for ourselves in some act of misguided patriotism. Even in Africa, the rich are free to buy it. It's not fair, but it's not jingoistic.
    • by bunions (970377)
      Judge a country not by its words but by its actions.

      So, no.
    • Woah (Score:5, Funny)

      by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:58PM (#16207623) Homepage

      This brain mapping might be just about a step too far with mouse experimentation. If you add up all the other improvements on them, and make them smart enough to escape, they are going to kick our asses. Then take our women. Not that the last part will bother too many people here. :p

      /narf

      • I for one welcome our new genetically mapped mouse overlords.
      • by NoMaster (142776)
        If you add up all the other improvements on them, and make them smart enough to escape, they are going to kick our asses.
        But what will they do tomorrow night?

        Then take our women.
        Ah. Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

    • by x2A (858210) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:58PM (#16207627)
      Yeah first thing I though too... this is one of the problems with americans that's responsible for the rest of the world's disdain with them... somebody before on slashdot said if only they used the word "people" in place of "americans", the rest of the world wouldn't grind their teeth hearing it.

      In this case, they're talking statistics, in may not make sense to try and say how many people in the world suffer from various conditions, but it could still be worded so much better, eg:

      "...effecting more than 50 million people in America alone..."

      doesn't sound like a bunch of americans thinking they're a higher species than anybody else on the planet.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        but it could still be worded so much better, eg:
        "...effecting more than 50 million people in America alone..."

        Or preferably,
        "...affecting more than 50 million people in America alone..."

    • Well, we are talking about brain diseases here. Look who we voted into office!
      • by TeamSPAM (166583)

        Not once but twice!

      • Now you mentioned it. I think it's urgent that we start raising money for this research. Clearly a great part of the American population is affected by some weird brain malfunction. So stop sending money to cure aids or hunger and help in finding a cure before the next election. Otherwise who knows how many hours of therapy it will take before the human race gets its self respect back.
    • If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, Pinky -- forget the stupid humans. Once we rule the planet, they won't matter. Ooops - did I call you Pinky? Sorry, George. Hey, did you see where I put my extra shotgun shells?
    • Let's see, this was a quote from an American press release obviously intended for an American audience. It was picked up on Slashdot, an American website run by Americans for Americans.

      As much as you people in other countries want to globalize everything American, we Americans don't necessarily agree. So please go piss off. Or, if you're not English, go do whatever to yourself as you say it in your own country.
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        an American website run by Americans for Americans.

        If Slashdot doesn't want readers, and comments, not ot mention submissions, from the rest of the world, they can block our IPs. Till then, expect to be called when you act like rednecks.

        • I didn't see any references to shotguns, hunting, opossum, mobile homes, pickup trucks, mullets, confederate flags, professional wrestling, country music, or the like. So, your claim of "redneck" is specious, at best.

          I just saw Americans talking to other Americans, then foreigners like you butting in.
          • by 1u3hr (530656)
            So, your claim of "redneck" is specious, at best. I just saw Americans talking to other Americans, then foreigners like you butting in.

            Sorry, I insulted rednecks by comparing them with blinkered chauvinists like yourself. And I'm so sorry for butting in to your personal private American-only website here. Somehow I got the idea that anyone was allowed to read and comment.

            • Read and comment all you like. But bitching about this topic is complete idiocy and I certainly have the right to state that opinion.

              I don't go to the BBC website and bitch that all the content is targetted for people in the UK. You shouldn't come here and bitch that some of the content is targetted for Americans.
              • by 1u3hr (530656)
                I don't go to the BBC website and bitch that all the content is targetted for people in the UK.

                Actually, it's not. Though "British", they have a large audience outside the UK, and cater to them. Regardless, that's got nothing to do with Slashdot.

                You shouldn't come here and bitch that some of the content is targetted for Americans.

                There's a difference between targetting an audience and gratuitously insulting anyone outside your demographic. And by the way, I'm not British.

    • It is a lot easier to get the statistics for the U.S. than the entire world.
  • I look forward to hearing about researchers who have made use of this.
  • by BWJones (18351) * on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:42PM (#16207385) Homepage Journal
    Now the gene mapping is finished, the real work can now begin.... I only half jokingly say this as all of the physiology needs to be performed on a baseline dataset now. It's interesting that a whole host of talents and technologies that were eclipsed by molecular biology and genetic engineering are now coming back into vogue. Technologies like electrophysiology and electron microscopy are now in hot demand.

    • Fortunately, for that very reason, the "mouse-bioinformatics research network" (mBIRN) [nbirn.net] has been funded by the NIH [nih.gov] to chop up and scan mice brains for years now.
    • The human brain surely is going to take waaaay more time than a mouse brain. The human brain weighs ~1500g the mouse only ~0.4 g. That mean that it'll take ~3750 times longer to map the human brain than it took to map the mouse brain. Man they've got alot of work to do, how long's that? I ran out of fingers...
  • great (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:46PM (#16207455) Homepage
    Genetic Mapping of Mouse Brain Complete

    Then they can get started on mapping Pinky, and then they can take over the world!
  • by teutonic_leech (596265) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:47PM (#16207463)
    Considering all those medical advances related to enhancing the life of mice I must assume that our planet is run by a small group of super-enhanced labmice which managed to escape and take over.

    Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?"
    "The same thing we do every night, Pinky: Try to take over the world!"
    • by dhasenan (758719)
      Why do you think the world exists in the first place? Not for humans, surely!
    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Well, at least they're improving somebody's life. Although I personally think the real agenda behind mapping a mouse's brain is to understand the president of the USA (el Diablo) better. Then again, Paul Allen's research institute is called the Institute for B.S..

      Isn't this somewhat suspicious??????

      [$500 Billion spent to date and still no Osama - and this is the guy (el Diablo, Bush) who wants to privatize social security?]

      • LOL - why didn't I think of that analogy - hehehe. I really don't think that Bush is THAT stupid - he's simply a corrupt, inarticulate, arrogant SOB - sometimes I wish he was simply stupid...
    • What could this do for genetic engineering?

      "Are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
      I think so, Brain, but then my name would be Thumby.

      Or what about the use of jeans in general?

      "Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Pinky?"
      Uh... yeah, Brain, but where are we going to find rubber pants our size?
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:54PM (#16207563)
    Since mice and humans share more than 90 percent of genes, the Allen Brain Atlas has enormous potential for understanding human neurological diseases and disorders affecting more than 50 million Americans each year

    That's an instant classic. Genes don't exactly work like this you know?

    90% same genes isn't like 90% same species. We share over 70% with insects and over 50% with plants.
    Yet, I wanna see someone claim that by dissecting oranges he can help us fight heart diseases.

    Let's face it: he's a scientist, he wanted to do it, he had to convince the sponsors. That's fine..
    • by teslar (706653)

      90% same genes isn't like 90% same species. We share over 70% with insects and over 50% with plants.
      Yet, I wanna see someone claim that by dissecting oranges he can help us fight heart diseases.

      Ah but you see, you are undermining your own argument - using your numbers, we share at best 50% of genes with the oranges. That's not the 90% we have in common with mice. And I'm sure you'd agree that dissecting mice to fight heart diseases doesn't sound nearly as far-fetched. In fact, with all the drug testing on m

    • Let's Do the Math (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:04PM (#16207695) Journal
      A coworker of mine tried to astonish me with the same fact. He said, "We have over 90% of the same genes as mice!"

      It's not too astonishing to me. Considering from the point of DNA, you are no where close to the end product. I'm not a biologist but to my knowledge, DNA can be one of four acids. Those, in turn are read in varying lengths to make one of twenty different amino acids. Those amino acids can be read in varying lengths to be one of hundreds (if not thousands) different proteins which are the building blocks of life.

      So if you want to shock me and tell me that between a mouse and I, nine in every ten genes is the same, I'm not going to be too shocked. If one in every ten is different, I could see the above transformation resulting in something no where near the same thing.

      But the basic idea is very very well founded, any gene to protein research is good research. Since we know very little about that process and find it quite difficult to predict. The answer to Alzheimer's is believed to be rooted in this process and, by working backwards, we may be able to isolate the genes that cause it. That is, of course, assuming it's due to a twisted protein which may or may not be caused by a common virus or just age.
      • by lubricated (49106)

        just by chance two random sequences of DNA will be 25% alike.
        • That's not entirely true. That assumes that the DNA codons are used with equal frequency, which is almost never the case. Different organisms have different biases in the way that they use the codons. Within an organism, there can be biases in the different regions (coding vs. noncoding) of the DNA.
      • Largely what makes organisms different is what genes are expressed. That is, what genes are turned in to make proteins. That's even what makes cells different. There isn't a genetic different between your liver cells and your heart cells (yes, there could be mutations). The real difference is in what proteins are expressed.
    • And yet... (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      most /.'ers seem to be much closer than that 50% to the plant species... vegetable!
    • by BWJones (18351) *
      You do realize that many protein and metabolic processes work the same in rats and mice as they do in other mammalians, like humans..... right? You do realize that it is possible to precisely emulate a disease process in humans by engineering in the same genetic defect in other organisms that is found in humans, right?

      Additionally, it is possible once we understand the biochemical, developmental, metabolic, proteomic processes in "lower" organisms to get a better understanding for how to attack problems in
      • For instance, amphibians and many fish species have much more sophisticated retinas that we mammalians do. Despite this level of sophistication, they are able to fix their retinas when damaged which is something that we humans have either forgotten how to do or lost the machinery required through evolution.

        Don't forget that we did not diverge from modern fish. Fish today are just as modern as us.

        We diverged from a common ancestor. It's quite likely that common ancestor did not have this adaptation
        • by BWJones (18351) *
          Don't forget that we did not diverge from modern fish. Fish today are just as modern as us.

          Precisely, and this is why I used quotes to refer to lower organisms. So, when mammalians went underground, we lost some functionality that may or may not have already been present. However, this does not mean that we cannot engineer in that functionality once we understand the pathways and expression profiles and timepoints.

    • Yet, I wanna see someone claim that by dissecting oranges he can help us fight heart diseases.
      I think that you'll find that most doctors have, at some point in their education, dissected and studied fruit.
    • by maxume (22995)
      Of course, people dissecting mice help us fight heart diseases all the time.
    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Darn it all! I was afraid of this...someone actually injecting real science into the posting!

      This could screw up everything...I'm the one trying to get that research grant to map the orange's genome - to help find the root causes for schizophrenia in humans, of course!

    • First of all, I'm guessing there's a disproportionate difference between 90% similar and 50% similar. Secondly, the study of plants has yielded remedies such as tamoxifen because there are genetic similarities between plants and humans. Nerve agents that kill bugs make good chemical weapons against people.
    • What's wrong with disecting oranges? Have you ever seen an orange suffer from heart disease? Neither have I! The only sensible way to save the human race is to create human-orange hybrids that are juicy yet sport opposing thumbs. We shall call them 'Homo orange'.
    • by crimson30 (172250)
      Yet, I wanna see someone claim that by dissecting oranges he can help us fight heart diseases.

      If you eat 'em, why not ;)

      On a related not, I'm wondering why we don't map similar yet speciated animals. Like, take a parrot species that generally lives 10 years and a parrot species that lives 30 years and try to figure out the difference leading to the life expectancy gap. Then map some monkeys and go from there. Or would that be about as silly an endeavor as the mouse/human one?
    • by NoMaster (142776)
      Yet, I wanna see someone claim that by dissecting oranges he can help us fight heart diseases.
      Personally, I'm still waiting to find out how sheep's bladders can be employed to prevent earthquakes...

    • by Cicero382 (913621)
      I agree. I have posted on /. before deploring sensationalist "scientific" publications. Well, at least in my area of expertise - and this is one of them.

      The point about the irrelevance of the %age coincidence of genome match between mice and men (sorry) is well made. The way the article presents the results suggest that we have a 50% chance of learning something useful from analysing the genome of an orange :-)

      Actually, it's worse than that.

      TFA essentially suggests that this project will be able to be of
    • "I wanna see someone claim that by dissecting oranges he can help us fight heart diseases."

      Sure here you go!
      SignOnSanDiego.com [signonsandiego.com]

      /love google
    • Yet, I wanna see someone claim that by dissecting oranges he can help us fight heart diseases.

      If you consider peeling a form of "dissecting" and then you eat the "dissected" orange, it could very well help you fight heart disease, especially if the orange is in place of something like potato chips or french fries.

  • Junk DNA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:57PM (#16207615) Journal
    What I am very curious to know is what the verdict is on the 99% of Junk DNA [wikipedia.org] that mice have. Humans have a similar scenario but what "junk" means is that this DNA does not code into proteins or seem to have a function. I recall reading an article where lab scientists had successfully removed a large chunk of what was believed to be junk DNA.

    Every mouse born missing that trait suffered a severe spine defect which looked like multiple sclerosis beyond belief. It was then believed that this deformity occurred in every mouse born but when inserted into junk DNA, it would be rendered harmless. Without the junk DNA to absorb the common deformity, the protein sequence for spinal cells was effectively altered nearly all the time.

    Hopefully with this mapping, we'll be able to better understand mice (and, in turn humans and optimistically eukaryotes in general). And perhaps we'll be able to settle the dispute as to whether or not junk DNA has functions beyond our insight.

    Unfortunately, I think one of the even more important tools for figuring out how Alzheimer's Desease occurs is understanding how proteins fold. Hopefully this will aid researchers looking to do this as a valuable tool.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NinjaFarmer (833539)
      "Junk DNA" sounds like some of the code I've seen. Nobody knows what it is, or what it does, but nothing works right without it.
    • by Unc-70 (975866)

      Hopefully with this mapping, we'll be able to better understand mice (and, in turn humans and optimistically eukaryotes in general). And perhaps we'll be able to settle the dispute as to whether or not junk DNA has functions beyond our insight.

      Actually, it won't tell us that. The mapping was performed against mRNA, a chemically distinct copy of protein-coding regions that is used to translate to the protein amino acid sequence. Since it was directed against coding regions, it won't tell us anything about

  • by DMiax (915735) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:00PM (#16207659)

    We happen to be only the third most intelligent ones...

  • ...non-Americans get these diseases too? The article doesn't make it clear *cough*
  • I've never met a mouse with schizophrenia.
  • Liars! (Score:4, Funny)

    by TekPolitik (147802) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:19PM (#16207887) Journal

    A 3-D reference atlas of the genes that are active in the mouse brain is now complete

    Obviously they could only have mapped the portion of the mouse that intrudes into our dimension. Being transdimensional superior creatures, there's no way limited creatures in our dimension could get access to the most important parts of the mouse brain.

  • When are we going to see it on Google maps?
  • He meant mice share 90% of their genes with Americans.

    **me runs away, comes back

    If it was as simple as that, we would have a map of the human brain in a few days time (10% left to analyse). The human brain is an entirely different story. We share many of the same features, like memory funtions and the parts of the cerebral-cortex that control them, but human brain functions are incredibly complex, particularly involving cognitive psychology. Psychology and neurology remain very primitive sciences at the tim
  • Wow! (Score:2, Funny)

    Mice and Americans share 90% of the genes? Wow!

    Oh, wait that was mice and humans ...
  • How hard a map can that be. You can likely download it from the manufacturer.

  •   This is a good thing since 99% of the world has a brain the size of mice.

    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. -Albert Einstein
  • Who's brain was it? George W's?
  • this article (Microsoft founder funds mapping of rodent brain "software")
    plus the article about Intel having a 80 core processor ("hardware")

    makes me fearful that they are secretly developing an AI "rodent" that will overrun the planet.

    we will have to purchase frequent "upgrades" to keep the bugger from eating our young, and the inevitable infection with viruses or worms will threaten the safety of mankind itself..

    we will be forced to escape the earth to save ourselves....oh crikey!!, doesn't Paul Allen hav
  • by BeeBeard (999187) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @09:59PM (#16209539)
    Sorry, couldn't resist >.

  • Next: a joint project with Scalar Composites to develop the laminated mouse brain computer [technovelgy.com].
  • I did not find any peer-reviewed journal reference for this work. Or at least reference to the validity of the methodology they are using.

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