U.S. launches new program to study genetic variation in normal human cells, tissues

(Xinhua) 13:26, May 12, 2023

LOS ANGELES, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is launching a new program that aims to investigate genetic variation in normal human cells and tissues, the agency said on Thursday.

The new program, with awards totaling 140 million U.S. dollars over five years, seeks to discover and catalog the breadth of somatic mosaicism, a type of genetic variation, in human tissues.

"As somatic mosaicism can occur in any cell type in our bodies, it could have wide-reaching impacts on our health," said Robert Eisinger, acting director of NIH's Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives.

Somatic mosaicism can occur in all tissues. It is a major contributor to cancer, and can be caused by both outside exposures and a person's own internal biological processes. But its full impact on human health and disease is unknown, said the NIH.

By cataloging somatic mosaicism in normal human tissues, the new program will provide foundational knowledge that will enable research on the role that somatic genetic variation plays in human development and aging, as well as a wide range of diseases and disorders, including undiagnosed diseases and disorders of the brain, muscle, skin, and immune system, according to the NIH.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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