The gene chip will allow scientists to more efficiently study the genes of the rhesus macaque monkey, the most commonly used monkey in biomedical research. They can study all 20,000 monkey genes at once and determine when and where genes are being turned on, or expressed. Because the genes of these monkeys are most similar to the genes of humans, they play a key role in our understanding of human disease, development and reproduction.

Although gene chips for humans and mice have existed for sometime, this is the first time a monkey gene chip has been produced.

Robert Norgren, Ph.D., associate professor in genetics, cell biology and anatomy at UNMC in Omaha, and leading researcher in the study completed the sequencing and then a gene technology company was able to develop the GeneChip“ Rhesus Macaque Genome Array.

The new GeneChip is now available, Dr. Norgren said, and the response from the scientific community has been enthusiastic. “By being able to look at all the monkey genes at the same time, it allows you to get answers to your questions much quicker. Before, when you had to study one gene at a time, it was a guessing game. If you were lucky, you got your answers after studying a few genes. If you were unlucky, it could take hundreds even thousands of experiments before you got your answers.”

Dr. Norgren said the GeneChip represents an important breakthrough in monkey genomics. “Because the genes of monkeys are so similar to humans, they are the best animal to use when trying to develop new vaccines,” he said. “Scientists who study AIDS should be the biggest benefactors of this GeneChip, as their research is focused on monkeys.”; Source: University of Nebraska