In what is likely to be a major step forward in the study of influenza, cystic fibrosis and other human diseases, an international research effort has a draft sequence of the ferret genome. The sequence was then used to analyze how the flu and cystic fibrosis affect respiratory tissues at the cellular level.

Ferrets have long been considered the best animal model for studying a number of human diseases, particularly influenza, because the strains that infect humans also infect ferrets. These infections spread from ferret to ferret much as they do from human to human.