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The Rodent Wars: Is a Rat Just a Big Mouse?

Sometimes it seems as if genome projects are cropping up everywhere.1 But until costs come down, limited resources are being largely concentrated into what Joseph Nadeau, professor of genetics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, calls "the genome seven," an apples-and-oranges list of viruses, bacteria, fungi, Arabidopsis thaliana, Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, and mouse, with Homo sapiens in its own category.2 Researchers widely acknowledge that in the rod

Ricki Lewis

Sometimes it seems as if genome projects are cropping up everywhere.1 But until costs come down, limited resources are being largely concentrated into what Joseph Nadeau, professor of genetics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, calls "the genome seven," an apples-and-oranges list of viruses, bacteria, fungi, Arabidopsis thaliana, Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, and mouse, with Homo sapiens in its own category.2

Researchers widely acknowledge that in the rodent arena, the mouse leads the pack in terms of critical mass and amenability to genetic manipulation. Yet the recent publication of a preliminary genome map of Rattus norvegicus and meetings at the National Institutes of Health have refocused attention on the rat.

The NIH Rat Model Priority Meeting held May 3 wasn't a call for genome sequencing, but an analysis of how the animal--long a staple of biomedical research--can best be used in light...

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