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Scientists publish 'navigation maps' for human genome

Published on Mar 27, 2014 3:03 AM

LONDON (REUTERS) - A large international team of scientists has built the clearest picture yet of how human genes are regulated in the vast array of cell types in the body - work that should help researchers target genes linked to disease.

In two major studies published in the journal Nature, the consortium mapped how a network of switches, built into human DNA, controls where and when genes are turned on and off.

The three-year long project, called FANTOM5 and led by the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies in Japan, involved more than 250 scientists across 20 countries and regions.

"Humans are complex multicellular organisms composed of at least 400 distinct cell types. This beautiful diversity of cell types allow us to see, think, hear, move and fight infection - yet all of this is encoded in the same genome," said Alistair Forrest, scientific coordinator of FANTOM5.

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