Sunday, November 27, 2016

1000 Genomes Project Compares People with Healthy Genes to Those with Disease

A multinational team of researchers has, according to science journal Nature, been collecting gene samples from over a thousand volunteers from around the world that will allow them to compare the genes of “healthy people” with everyone else, to help in discerning genetic patterns that lead to diseases such as diabetes and cancer. The 1000 Genomes Project as it’s called, says the Voice of America, entails collecting samples from people that have demonstrated a lifelong history of health without the negative effects of genetic diseases. The hope is that such patterns will help head off such diseases in people that are born without such genetic benefits.


Nature says that the project, which included taking samples from fourteen unique populations from four different regions of the world: Europe, Afria, Asia and the Americas, will help narrow down the variants responsible for genetic diseases. Scientists believe that the vast majority of such diseases are due to a variant in just 1 in every 100 people. The difficulty has been in discovering such variants. This new study will go a long way towards finding them all.


To make the data recovered from the samples most useful, VoA says, the researchers will be putting all of it on a public database which means anyone that chooses to can do research on their own. They add that another way to look at the data is to say that by mapping the differences in the human genetic makeup, researchers hope to gain a better understanding of why some people are more susceptible to genetic diseases than others, and then to use that information to provide benefit to those that are more susceptible.


The great challenge of such a study was of course in finding the right individuals to sample and then convincing them to allow their DNA to be studied. Such individuals had to have attained middle age at least without ever showing any evidence of any kind of genetically related disease. By sampling 1092 such individuals, the team found not just a collection of people who appear to be free from genetic disease, but people who also come from diverse backgrounds which means ethnic differences in their DNA. By making the samples more diverse, it makes it much easier to highlight those DNA sequences that are common to all of those studied. The process took five years but now that it’s done, researchers from around the world can get busy looking at the samples to help finally unlock the secrets behind genetic diseases.


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