U.S. researchers say that sequencing the genomes of 17 different strains of lab mice could help identify genes that contribute to human diseases.
"Mice are the premier model organism for human disease. We've made a lot of progress in understanding the genetics of common human diseases by studying mice," says University of Wisconsin-Madison geneticist Bret Payseur.
"Although we've been able to map genomic regions that contribute to disease risk, we haven't known the full spectrum of mutations involved."
The new genetic compendium will help researchers more quickly find the subset of sequence differences responsible for disease and other characters, he added.
The new paper identifies mutations associated with more than 700 biological traits, including diabetes and heart disease.
"We are living in an era where we have thousands of human genomes at our fingertips," says David Adams from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, who led the project. "The mouse, and the genome sequences we have generated, will play a critical role in understanding of how genetic variation contributes to disease and will lead us towards new therapies."
In addition to advancing the use of mice as a model for human disease, Payseur says the work also advances studies of evolution, his key interest.
The study was recently published in journal Nature.