Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists describe new approach for identifying genetic markers for common diseases

29.10.2010
For Immediate Release – A group of researchers at The Scripps Research Institute and the Scripps Translational Science Institute has published a paper that reviews new strategies for identifying collections of rare genetic variations that reveal whether people are predisposed to developing common conditions like diabetes and cancer.

In our modern genetic age, the entire DNA sequences, or "genomes," of humans and thousands of other animals, plants, and microbial life forms have been completely decoded and are publicly available to scientists worldwide. One of the hopes now that this data is available is that scientists will be able to find genetic markers of diseases—particular bits of DNA that would identify someone as being at risk for developing a particular disease.

Knowing that a person has such a genetic predisposition could be a powerful tool for preventative medicine because, depending on the disease in question, there may be specific drugs or behavioral modifications like diet or exercise that doctors could prescribe to their patients early on to prevent or significantly lessen the impact of those diseases later in life.

Finding these genetic markers has proven to be difficult, however, and despite the fact that the human genome has been available to researchers for years, scientists have only discovered the underlying genetic determinants for about five to ten percent of the heritable component of most common human diseases.

"There's a long way to go," says Nicholas J. Schork, Ph.D., who is a professor at Scripps Research and director of biostatistics and bioinformatics at the Scripps Translational Science Institute. In the November 2010 issue of Nature Reviews Genetics, Schork and his colleagues outline new statistical strategies that may help to close the gap in the coming years.

Part of the problem, Schork says, is that most studies up to now have focused on identifying common genetic markers of diseases—those definitive DNA signatures that are unmistakably linked to diseases because they are shared by large groups of people who have those diseases.

Such investigations, typically referred to as "genome-wide association studies," use statistical algorithms to sift through DNA samples and pull out whatever common variations exist that exhibit signs of association with a condition. While powerful, these statistical methods may not shed light on many diseases, says Schork, because not all diseases have such definitive DNA signatures. Many of the most common diseases are more complex. They are associated with multiple genes and multiple environmental factors.

According to Schork, the key to identifying the genetic components of these complex diseases is not to focus on finding single common genetic signatures that people share—but rather to identify whole collections of rare genetic signatures, any one of which may indicate a predisposition toward a disease.

The situation is analogous to asking how someone from outside New York City could get to Times Square in Manhattan. There is no single answer to that question because there are any number of approaches and modes of transportation—from New Jersey, from Brooklyn, from Wall Street, or from the Bronx, and via plane, bus, train, taxi, ferry, bridge, tunnel, subway, or sidewalk.

Regardless of where they start or how they get there, it is possible for many people to wind up at exactly the same spot, though, and Schork says the same is true for many human diseases. There may not be one single genetic marker for many diseases, but multiple markers involving any number of genes, even among people who share the same disease.

Finding these rare signatures requires a great deal more scientific sleuthing, says Schork, and in their Nature Review Genetics article Schork and his colleagues suggest a new approach to discover all the possible combinations.

This approach will require collaborations between mathematicians and computer scientists, who have the skills needed to tease out these elusive genetic markers, and biologists who can shed light on what those genes do.

"Mathematics, statistics, and fancy computers alone won't do it," Schork says. "A much more integrative approach has to occur in order to make sense of DNA sequence data."

The article, "Statistical analysis strategies for association studies involving rare variants," is authored by Vikas Bansal, Ondrej Libiger, Ali Torkamani, and Nicholas J. Schork. It appears in the November issue of Nature Reviews Genetics. See http://www.nature.com/nrg/journal/v11/n11/abs/nrg2867.html

This work was funded by grants and support from the National Institutes of Health, the Price Foundation, Scripps Genomic Medicine, and Charles University.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations, at the forefront of basic biomedical science that seeks to comprehend the most fundamental processes of life. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases, and synthetic vaccine development. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, Scripps Research currently employs approximately 3,000 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, scientific and other technicians, doctoral degree graduate students, and administrative and technical support personnel. Headquartered in La Jolla, California, the institute also includes Scripps Florida, whose researchers focus on basic biomedical science, drug discovery, and technology development. Scripps Florida is located in Jupiter, Florida. For more information, see www.scripps.edu

Mika Ono | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.scripps.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex

nachricht New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany

25.06.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>