An Atlas of the Spine - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/17/08

An Atlas of the Spine

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Until now, scientists have not fully understood how spinal genes behave.  So they couldn't develop more effective treatments for the hundreds of thousands of Americans with spinal cord injuries and diseases, like tumors on the spine.  But in Washington Thursday, the Allen Institute for Brain Science unveiled what they call the Allen Spinal Cord Atlas, which is virtually a road map to the spine.  It is a free online tool that will show researchers how the spine's 20,000 genes work. 

Allan Jones, PhD., of the Allen Institute for Brain Science says, "It gives researchers that Ah-Ha moment -- that peanut butter and chocolate moment that says this is, this combined with knowledge that I already had leads me to new insights and breakthroughs."

More than a quarter of a million Americans suffer from spinal cord injuries, including 25,000 Iraq War veterans and even more are affected by Lou Gehrig's Disease and multiple sclerosis. 

Sharing this map of how genes look and interact will allow scientists to fix the abnormal ones and connect what they do in the lab to help real patients.  Your donations to the ALS Association and the MS Society among other groups have helped fund this $2 million project.

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