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The Power of Comparative Genomics

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Published on May 4, 2012

Genomics is a branch of genetics in which large stretches of DNA, ideally the entire chromosome(s) of an organism are studied.

As the complete series of DNA letters (bases) in the genomes of a growing number of organisms are worked out, it becomes possible to analyse these sequences side-by-side to look for similarities and differences. This method, known as genomics, can be a very powerful way to reveal information about the relationship between different species. It can also have surprising uses in medical research.

In an example discussed in the video, a team led by Susan Dutcher from Washington University were able to find a previously unknown gene causing a human disease by comparing the human genome with the DNA of two different plant species. If you want to know how, watch the film!

Comparative genomics can help to reduce the number of experiments being carried out with more complex species, such as mammals. Use of this approach is therefore making a valuable contribution to scientists' commitment to the 3Rs (the desire to reduce, refine and replace the use of higher animals in research).

This film is part of a collection of resources on the use of model organisms in medical research produced by Dr Chris Willmott and Professor Andrew Fry of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Leicester.

Credits: This video was part-funded by grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Genetics Education Networking for Innovation and Excellence (GENIE).

Acknowledgements:
Cover shot from Nature 15th February 2001 reproduced with permission from Nature Publishing Group.

Cover shot from Science 16th February 2001 reproduced with permission from AAAS and Ann Cutting (artist)

Footage of normal and defective cilia kindly provided by Prof Chris O'Callaghan

Li et al. (2004) Comparative Genomics Identifies a Flagellar and Basal Body Proteome that Includes the BBS5 Human Disease Gene, Cell, Vol. 117, Pages 541-552. Copyright Cell Press 2004

This film was produced by External Relations, University of Leicester.

Written and Produced by Andrew Fry and Chris Willmott
Filmed and Edited by Carl Vivian
Animation by David Wickins
Narrated by Jon Shears

For further information about;

BBSRC: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/

GENIE: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/gene...

BioethicsBytes: http://bioethicsbytes.wordpress.com/

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