3 Chromosomes Mapped Epigenetically

August 15, 2006

The Human Epigenome Project Consortium, a public/private collaboration led by Epigenomics AG and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have published comprehensive epigenetic data for chromosomes 6, 20, and 22. The group, founded in 2003, hopes to identify and catalog all Methylation Variable Positions (MVPs) in the human genome.

The group is excited about their progress with the Human Epigenome Project:

“This is the first study report ever establishing the DNA methylation blueprint for whole chromosomes,” said Alexander Olek, CEO of Epigenomics AG, “and we believe the results justify the effort. As an example, we found that between the specimens examined, a surprisingly high proportion of the genomic sites are differentially methylated. So science may have underestimated the role of DNA methylation in gene regulation and tissue differentiation. The data constitute an important reference tool for further epigenetic studies and will help us to identify new marker candidates for a variety of medical conditions.”

The results were patented, and Epigenomics intends to use the data for for development of diagnostic products. The data is expected to be particularly useful for research into cancer, mental health and aging. The next step is to use the MVPs as a reference for epidimilogical studies to find out how they correlate to health and disease states.

This is genuinely good news, but its not going to stop me from grumbling about the patents.


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