SITE VISIT: A Gene Map for All

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Science  23 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5389, pp. 587
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5389.587d

The latest map of the human genome, described on page 744 of this issue of Science, is big news for biomedical scientists, but some of its details can be heavy going for the rest of us. So if you're curious about genetic topics such as Marfan syndrome, which may have afflicted Abraham Lincoln, or baldness in men, surf over to Genes and Disease, a site that the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has set up to complement GeneMap '98.

The site briefly describes the role genes are thought to play in about 60 diseases, from melanoma to muscular dystrophy, and offers links to GeneMap '98 and other databases. On the page for cystic fibrosis, for example, you can learn about the gene for an ion transport protein that, when defective, causes this lung disease; and you can see the gene's sequence and where it's located (on chromosome 7). Other links lead to PubMed references, disease entries in Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (Science, 5 June, p. 1499), and research foundations. David Lipman of the NLM says GeneMap '96 had a similar component, but this one is bigger and will be updated as new info on diseases comes out. “A huge investment went into” the Human Genome Project, Lipman says, explaining that the philosophy behind the site is to “leverage” that money. “The cost is small and the value is quite big.”

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