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FUNGENES — Result In Brief

Project ID: 503494
Country: Germany

The complete atlas of the genome

European genomics research is working on the follow-up to the human genome map. Embryo stem cell (ESCs) engineering is contributing to an atlas of how each gene fits into a group and then steers the development of the specialised cell.
The complete atlas of the genome
Beyond the complete sequence of the mammalian genome lies the blueprint for the complete development and subsequent regulation throughout the life of the animal. Genetic information is used in subsets of stem cells that define many potential avenues of development and expression.

A major European initiative in genomic research, 'Functional genomics in engineered ES cells' (Fungenes) aimed to map these subsets in pluripotent, selected differentiated cell types to make an atlas of mammalian genome use in early development.

The expert multidisciplinary consortium consisted of leading academic and commercial experts in ES cells. To draw up the atlas, the Fungenes team manipulated mouse ES cells to come up with various paradigms or models to follow different developmental pathways.

Fungenes scientists focused on identifying genes controlling the development of pluripotent ES cells into heart, nerve, smooth muscle, vascular endothelial, fat, liver and insulin-producing cells. To identify the function of genes, the team developed new cellular and molecular tools.

The researchers successfully elucidated how ES cells renew themselves, and 'select' a developmental pathway to different organ-specific cells, so-called lineage commitment. Potential novel target genes have been identified for therapeutic intervention.

The next step was to establish screening procedures of small candidate molecules to target the genes in the developmental cascades. Fungenes developed ES cell-based approaches for the screening methods.

Fungenes has established a functional and expression atlas database. Extension of this genomic foundation will ultimately provide a complete picture of the complexities of mammalian development and the tools to design novel targeted drugs.

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