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We’re More Genetically Diverse Than Thought: Study


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http://www.world-science.net/othernews/061123_variation.htm

 

We’re more genetically diverse than thought: study

 

Nov. 23, 2006

Special to World Science

 

New re­search has found that at least 10 per­cent of genes in the hu­man pop­u­la­tion can vary in the num­ber of cop­ies of cer­tain DNA se­quences.

 

The find­ings un­der­mine a pop­u­lar view that the DNA of any two hu­mans is 99.9 per­cent alike, re­search­ers said. That idea is wide­spread; sci­en­tists still some­times cite it as ev­i­dence that there are no sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences among rac­es, al­though re­cent re­search has cast doubt on both no­tions.

 

The new find­ings, from ge­net­i­cist Ste­phen W. Sche­rer of the Uni­ver­si­ty of To­ron­to and its af­fi­li­a­ted Hos­p­i­tal for Sick Chil­dren, could al­so re­shape think­ing on ge­net­ic dis­eases and ev­o­lu­tion, sci­en­t­ists say.

 

Genes usu­al­ly oc­cur in two cop­ies, one in­her­it­ed from each pa­r­ent. Sche­rer and col­leagues found some 2,900 genes—more than 10 per­cent of those in the ge­nome—with vari­a­tions in the num­ber of cop­ies of spe­cif­ic DNA seg­ments.

 

These dif­fer­ences can af­fect gene ac­tiv­i­ty and bi­o­lo­gi­cal func­tions, the group said.

 

To un­der­stand the im­pli­ca­tions for hu­man ev­o­lu­tion and dis­ease, Scher­er’s team com­pared DNA from 270 peo­ple of Asian, Af­ri­can, or Eu­ro­pe­an an­ces­try. The in­ves­ti­ga­tors mapped the num­ber of du­pli­cat­ed or de­let­ed genes, which they call copy num­ber vari­a­tions. They re­ported the find­ings in the Nov. 23 is­sue of the re­search jour­nal Na­ture.

 

The re­search­ers searched for the vari­a­tions us­ing mi­croar­rays, a ge­nome scan­ning tech­nol­o­gy that can find changes at least 1,000 nu­cleotides, or “let­ters” of ge­net­ic code, in length. They found an av­er­age of 70 of these re­gions, av­er­ag­ing 250,000 nu­cleotides long, in each sam­ple. In all, the group iden­ti­fied 1,447 dif­fer­ent copy num­ber vari­a­tions col­lec­tive­ly cov­er­ing about 12 per­cent of the ge­nome and six to 19 per­cent of any giv­en chro­mo­some.

 

Not on­ly were the changes com­mon, they al­so were large, Scherer said. “We’d find mis­sing pieces of DNA, some a mil­lion or so nu­cleotides long,” he added. “We used to think that if you had big changes like this, then they must be in­volved in dis­ease. But we are show­ing that we can all have these changes.”

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Pharmacogenomics is a field that is exploring these differences in the hopes of tailoring drug therapy to individuals with variations in genes that may make some drugs effective for some and not for others. Of course, some label this as racist, but I believe that it will provide more personalized care for those with different genes for diseases. For example, the cause of hypertension African Americans has a different cause than those in whites, and many docs and pharmacologists are exploring the potential for these differences.

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Pharmacogenomics is a field that is exploring these differences in the hopes of tailoring drug therapy to individuals with variations in genes that may make some drugs effective for some and not for others. Of course, some label this as racist, but I believe that it will provide more personalized care for those with different genes for diseases. For example, the cause of hypertension African Americans has a different cause than those in whites, and many docs and pharmacologists are exploring the potential for these differences.

 

They'll change their tune when it starts saving lives. It's really hard to have some part of science when it saves your grandmother, or some other loved one.

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