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A tall story: New research adds to growing body of knowledge of genetics of height
Date:4/6/2008

es affect normal growth, we can begin to understand the processes that lead to abnormal growth not just height disorders but also tumour growth, for example."

Half of the new loci identified by Dr Frayling and colleagues contain genes whose functions are well documented. Some help regulate basic cell division, which may have implications for cancer research: unregulated cell division can lead to the growth of tumours. Other genes are implicated in cell-to-cell signalling, an important process in the early development of embryos in the womb. Yet others are so-called "master regulators", acting as switches to turn genes elsewhere in the genome on or off.

One locus in particular is also implicated in osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis involving the effects of wear and tear on the bodys structures. This locus reinforces a similar link identified by a previous study, and may be involved in the growth of cartilage.

However, of the twenty loci identified by Dr Frayling and colleagues, half contain genes about which little or nothing is known. The researchers compare these findings to their work last year which identified the first common gene for obesity, the FTO gene. Even though the gene has been shown without a doubt to be influence body size, its role is still unclear.

"There may be more than a hundred genes which affect our height, many of which will work in surprising or unpredictable ways," says Dr Mike Weedon, lead author on the paper. "The challenge now for us is to understand how they influence growth in the body. This could open up new avenues for treating a range of diseases."


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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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