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Genetic Researchers Gather In Raleigh To Share Data

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RALEIGH — The Triangle is known for leadership in computer science and networking, but there is a lot of work going on to help people and animals live healthier lives.

Scientists from across the country gathered at theNorth Carolina College of Veterinary MedicineWednesday to share new genomic research. The human genome was recently sequenced -- a giant step in understanding humans' genetic blueprint.

"That gives us a nice toolbox to start with. To really begin hitting at some of the genes and really finding some of the mutation, some of the variations, that causes our common diseases," says Dr. Leslie Lyons, a researcher at theUniversity of California at Davis.

Dogs, cats, horses and other animals contract the same major diseases as humans; heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

"Knowing what genes are associated with these particular diseases is the first step, and then figuring out ways to fix these genes that are malfunctioning is the next step," says N.C. State University researcher Jonathan Horowitz.

Researchers in labs atN.C. Stateare working hard to map the genetic code of all kinds of organisms from plants to humans.

Special equipment maps DNA. Results are checked, double-checked and shared with other researchers -- all in an effort to identify pre-dispositions for diseases.

"Genomic discovery is going to lead to a whole new variety of pharmaceuticals that will be used to treat all kinds of things -- Alzheimer's disease, cancer, you name it," Horowitz says.

Genetic mapping has already led to breakthroughs. Research on the dog genome helped scientists identify genes responsible for 21 canine diseases.