EMERYVILLE, California, November 11, 2020 / PRNewswire / – Bio Fauna today announced that the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Linda Goodman, is a co-author of a she studies Posted in Nature as part of an international team of researchers with an effort called the Zoonomia Project. The study, conducted by the Broad Institute of WITH is Harvard is Uppsala University, analyzed and compared the entire genome of more than 80% of all mammalian families, spanning nearly 110 million years of evolution. The dataset includes genomes from over 120 species that had not previously been sequenced and captures mammalian diversity at an unprecedented scale.
The dataset is intended to advance human health research. Researchers can use the data to compare the genomes of humans and other mammals, which could help identify genomic regions that could be involved in human disease. Fauna Bio focuses on using data not only to better understand which mutations contribute to human disease, but also to identify genes involved in resistance to animal diseases. Hibernating animals are particularly good models of disease resistance because they are adapted to protect themselves from the many dangers associated with hibernation, including muscle and bone atrophy due to non-use, extreme obesity, and heart damage due to drastic changes in Blood flow.
“The application of hibernation biology to human therapeutic discovery is one of Fauna Bio’s primary research and development goals, and the scale of this new dataset allows for a more powerful approach to identify potential new drug targets,” said the co-author Linda Goodman, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Fauna Bio.
The Zoonomia project is based on a previous project, the 29 Mammals Project, which began sequencing mammalian genomes in 2006. The latest project extends the work by exploring the genomes of species that can perform physiological feats that humans cannot, from hibernating squirrels to exceptionally long-lived bats. Zoonomia data have already helped researchers in a recent study assess the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in many species. The researchers identified 47 mammals that have a high probability of being reservoirs or intermediate hosts for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
“The central idea of the project was to develop and use this data to help human geneticists understand which mutations cause disease,” said the co-senior author. Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, scientific director of vertebrate genomics at the Broad Institute and professor of comparative genomics at Uppsala University.
The project also developed tools that will allow researchers to examine each ‘letter’ or base in a mammalian genome sequence and compare it to sequences at equivalent locations in the human genome, including regions that may be involved in the disease. This could help researchers identify genetic sites that have remained the same and functional over evolutionary time and those that have randomly mutated. If a site has been stable among mammals for millions of years, it likely has an important function, so any changes at that site could potentially be disease-related. “What Zoonomia has achieved lays the groundwork for large-scale comparative mammalian biology. Now, Fauna and others can begin the hard work of translating these findings into drug discoveries for patients and their families,” he said. Carlos D. Bustamante, Professor at Stanford, former postdoc advisor to the three founders of Fauna and member of Fauna SAB.
The project was funded in part by the NHGRI, the Swedish Research Council, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Broadnext10 and others.
Adapted from a press release from the Broad Institute of WITH is Harvard and written by Namrata Sengupta.
Zoonomy Consortium. A comparative genomics multitool for scientific discovery and conservation. Nature. on line November 11, 2020. DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-020-2876-6
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Fauna Bio is unlocking the secrets of animal genomics to improve human health. With the world’s largest animal biobank with specialized adaptations, state-of-the-art computational and genomic tools, and an experienced multidisciplinary team, Fauna Bio is changing the paradigm of drug discovery and identifying new drug targets in a wide range of clinical applications, from cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer’s.
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