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May 1, 2018

Genomes of Distinctive Species Reveal Clues to Human Health and Disease

JAMA. 2018;319(17):1755-1756. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.12860

To discover previously unidentified DNA elements that might shape clinically important traits, researchers recently examined coding and noncoding genomic regions across 7 diverse animal species: elephant, little brown bat, big brown bat, orca, dolphin, naked mole rat, and thirteen-lined ground squirrel.

The genome-wide comparative analysis recently described in Cell Reports uncovered “accelerated regions” (ARs) that are conserved in most mammals, but evolved rapidly in these particular species to give them their distinctive characteristics—potentially representing nature’s solutions to disease or other challenges.