Worm turns into a breakthrough

December 11, 1998

British and US scientists published the first genetic blueprint of an animal this week - a one millimetre long, transparent worm. Containing fewer than 1,000 cells, it is the first complex multicelled organism to have its complete genome sequenced. The breakthrough, funded by the Medical Research Council and the US National Institutes of Health, may shine new light on human development. Like man, the nematode worm develops from an embryo to an adult and has a gut, nerves, muscle and skin. Around 40 per cent of its genes are closely related to man's.

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