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MCW Lab Lands $8.7M to Create Knockout Rats for Modeling Disease Genetics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A team at the Medical College of Wisconsin will use a five-year, $8.7 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to create new genetically modified rat models for studying genetics of human diseases, MCW said today.

Principal investigator Howard Jacob, director of MCW's Human and Molecular Genetics Center, will lead the effort using transcription activator-like effector nuclease gene editing technology to develop 200 gene-targeted knockout rat models and to disseminate them throughout the disease research community.

The initial strains the Jacob lab has already developed have shown that they may be used to validate a gene underlying a quantitative trait locus; to test a result from a genome-wide association study; to inform follow-up studies to define the function of a predicted gene; and to study the physiology and mechanisms of a gene, according to Jacob's research proposal. The previous work also has proven that his lab has the infrastructure in place to scale up the program, and that is has a distribution system in place to move the rats and reagents to the research community.

A related resource housed at MCW is the Rat Genome Database, which is a collaborative program between international research partners involved in rat genetic and genomic research that provides access to the most current and complete rat data and related analytical tools.

Jacob's lab also has used zinc finger nuclease technology to generate over 100 rat strains that serve as models of the disease processes involved in hypertension, heart disease, kidney failure, and cancer.