The long-finned squid has a nerve cell fiber, called a giant axon, which is 1,000 times wider than the average human axon. This makes the organism ideal for studying neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Alzheimer's disease, the MBL said.
The effort is co-directed Joe DeGiorgis of MBL and Peter Burbach, of the Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience at the University Medical Center Utrecht. Support for the project comes from the Laboratory of Neurobiology at the National Institutes of Health and the Netherlands Brain Foundation. Around 41 reserchers worldwide are expected to have some involvement in the project.
So far, DeGiorgis and his colleagues have identified more than 3,000 out of what they predict will total approximately 35,000 genes in the squid genome.
"It's a good beginning, but it's the tip of the iceberg, and completing the project is money dependent," DeGiorgis said in a statement.