A new project to find the role of every gene in the mouse genome may offer the ultimate mouse model of human disease.
"The project will explain the genes - it is going to be transformative for biology," Nature quoted James Battey, director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, as saying.
The International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC) aims to take mice of identical genetic background and to create viable strains in which one of the 20,000 or so genes in the mouse genome is knocked out, or deactivated.
The knockout strains will then be put through rigorous, systematic phenotypic screens, which will check for physical and behavioural differences.
The information will be stored in a purpose-built, open-access database.
Scientists would, for example, be able to turn to the database to learn more about an unfamiliar gene signalled in a genome-wide association study in humans as being possibly relevant to a particular disease.