Breeding “knockout” mice is a prized tool for evaluating the function of genes, but it is a ponderous and costly tool, consuming many months and thousands of dollars to create each new knockout strain. But that could soon change. In today’s issue of Nature, researchers at a Texas-based company, Lexicon Genetics, describe a new technique that mutates genes at random in embyonic stem cells, used to make knockout mice, and then automatically identifies the mutated gene. The method makes it possible to produce a library of thousands of cells, each one with a mutation in a single known gene. A researcher can simply order a cell with a specified gene knockout. The company has said that scientists engaged in noncommercial research can obtain the cells free of charge. For further information, contact: Brian P. Zambrowicz tel +1 281 364 0100, fax +1 281 364 0155, email—June Kinoshita


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  1. . Disruption and sequence identification of 2,000 genes in mouse embryonic stem cells. Nature. 1998 Apr 9;392(6676):608-11. PubMed.