Advances in discovering the genetic causes of common diseases
According to an article published this week in Guardian Unlimited, several groups of scientists have madeconsiderable progress in research on the genetic causes of seven common diseases, among which include diabetes, arthritis and hypertension, completing the largest analysis of human genome . Using newtechniques to examine the DNA of thousands of patients, scientists also found genetic elements common in cases of coronary heart disease. Their findings pave the way toward better treatments andpossible cures for the millions of people who develop these diseases every day.
According to Peter Donnelly of Oxford University, who led the research program of 9 million pounds ($ 13.3 million)funded by the Wellcome Trust: "Identifying the genes that underlie these diseases, our study should enable scientists to understand better how disease occurs, which people are more likely to develop and,eventually, produce more personalized and effective. "
Since the completion of human genome project in 2000, which produced a map of every gene in the human body, scientists quickly identifiedrare genetic variations that cause the majority of hereditary diseases like cystic fibrosis.
"It was much more difficult to identify the common variations of diseases such as diabetes or Crohn'sdisease, involving multiple genes, but the effects of each of them are children," said Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust.
Studying the DNA of 17,000 people, 50 research groups identified 24new genetic links to diseases such as bipolar disorder, Crohn's disease, heart disease, diabetes types 1 and 2, rheumatoid arthritis and hypertension, tripling the number of genes previouslyassociated with them.
In the study, scientists analyzed DNA samples from 2,000 patients per disease, comparing them with 3,000 control samples from healthy volunteers, and looked around 500,000 genetic...