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The cat could serve as a model for more than 200 human inborn genetic errors.
The Canine Genome Project is big news--not as big as the Human Genome Project, but still "visible," reported on in magazines and newspapers. Ongoing research on the house cat's genome is "not so visible," says geneticist Marilyn Menotti-Raymond of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity (LGD) of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, Md. But the feline research is more advanced and may be more important biologically than canine genome studies, according to researchers who are mapping the feline genome.

What makes the feline genome so important is that "the cat's genome is clearly the closest to the human of any mammalian genus other than primates," notes Stephen J. O'Brien, chief of the LGD. Our furry feline friends have "maybe 75 percent homology to humans in terms of [genetic] content," O'Brien...

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