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Japan Forms National SNP Mapping Initiative

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TOKYO--Japan will start a national project to locate and map single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the Japanese population, according to a Nature report. The initiative is expected to map between 100,000 and 150,000 SNPs over two years, using samples from no fewer than 50 Japanese people. Information from other Asian countries will be included in the future. Japanese government divisions, academic institutions, and the private sector will cooperate in the undertaking.

One goal is to establish a public SNP database, something that scientists hope will assist international projects like the SNP Consortium, which involves 10 pharmaceutical companies and five genomic institutes, none of which are Japanese. The Japanese effort will differ from the SNP Consortium in that it will use SNPs in coding sequences by analyzing full-length complementary DNA and expressed sequence tags. In contrast, the SNP Consortium is based on genomic SNPs. Some observers question whether Japan will be able to meet its objectives, in part, because its information processing technology and sequencing capacity may not be robust enough, Nature reported.

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