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Thread: "Company, researchers to crack Neanderthal DNA code"

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    "Company, researchers to crack Neanderthal DNA code"

    By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
    WASHINGTON (Reuters)

    - Experts who first managed to tease some DNA out of the bones of a Neanderthal teamed up on Thursday with a gene-sequencing company to try to get a complete Neanderthal genetic code.

    The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and 454 Life Sciences Corp in Branford, Connecticut, said they would use new technology that amplifies tiny samples of the scarce DNA from bones. "The advent of 454 Sequencing has enabled us to move forward with a project that was previously thought to be impossible," said Svante Paabo, Director of the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology at the Max Planck Institute.

    Paabo was the first to find DNA in a Neanderthal leg bone, in 1997.
    Neanderthals lived in Europe and the Near East until about 30,000 years ago, when Cro-Magnon people, the ancestors of modern humans, moved in.

    Researchers have been trying to find out if Neanderthals are also our ancestors, or if they were an evolutionary dead end. Paabo's team was able to get a small amount of DNA from some bones that suggested they did not contribute to the gene pool of living people.

    But such old bones do not yield much DNA, the researchers said. "When an organism dies, its tissues are overrun by bacteria and fungi. Much of the DNA is simply destroyed, and the small amount remaining is broken into short pieces and chemically modified during the long period of fossil formation," the Institute said in a statement. Continued...

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    DNA detectives delving into Neanderthal genome

    U.S. and German scientists launched a two-year project Thursday to decipher the genetic code of the Neanderthal, a feat they hope will help deepen understanding of how modern humans' brains evolved.

    Neanderthals were a species that lived in Europe and western Asia from more than 200,000 years ago to about 30,000 years ago. Scientists from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology are teaming up with a company in Connecticut to map the genome, or DNA code.

    "The Neanderthal is the closest relative to the modern human, and we believe that by sequencing the Neanderthal we can learn a lot," said Michael Egholm, a vice president at 454 Life Sciences Corp. of Branford, Connecticut, which will use its high-speed sequencing technology in the project.

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