Hebrew University maps breakthrough atlas of the human genome and identifies 180,000 cell mutations

Researchers from Hebrew University, led by Professor Nissim Benvenisty, have established an atlas of the human genome that illuminates the roles our genes play in health and disease. The researchers utilized a sophisticated gene-editing technology to induce more than 180,000 distinct mutations, in a new type of human embryonic stem cells, which they have recently discovered to contain only a single copy of the genome, as published in Nature. As a result, they could analyze the role of genes responsible for all hereditary disorders in early human development, and show how cancer-causing genes could affect the growth of the human embryo. The research that was published in Nature Cell Biology also revealed that a mere 9% of all genes in the human genome are essential for their survival, while 5% actually inhibit their growth. Another key finding was the identification of genes which are thought to maintain the identity of embryonic stem cells and prevent them from becoming cancerous or turning into adult cell types. This new atlas enables a novel functional view on the human genome, and provides a tool that will change how we study and treat cancer and genetic disorders.