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Genetic sequencing alone doesn't offer a true picture of human disease
Date:1/23/2011

ney disease and an asphyxiating thoracic condition, the significance of the majority of DNA variants could not be determined. Davis then tested these variants in a zebrafish model, in which many genes are similar to humans, and showed that TTC21B appears to contribute disease-related mutations to about 5 percent of human ciliopathy cases.

The study, which appears in Nature Genetics online on Jan. 23, shows how genetic variations both can cause ciliopathies and also interact with other disease-causing genes to yield very different sets of patient problems.

Katsanis, the Jean and George Brumley Jr., M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Cell Biology, and Director of the Duke Center for Human Disease Modeling, is a world expert in ciliopathies such as Bardet-Biedl Syndrome, in which the primary cilium of cells is abnormal and leads to a host of problems. About one child in 1,000 live births will have a ciliopathy, an incidence that is in the range of Down's syndrome, said Katsanis.

"By sequencing genes to identify genetic variation, followed by functional studies with a good experimental model, we can get a much better idea of the architecture of complex, inherited disorders," Katsanis said. "Each individual with a disease is unique," Davis said. "If you can overlay gene sequencing with functional information, then you will be able to increase the fidelity of your findings and it will become more meaningful for patients and families."

It will take more laboratories doing more pointed studies like this one to get a fuller picture of the ciliopathies and other diseases, Davis said.

Katsanis noted that it will take true collaboration within many scientific disciplines as well as scientific finesse to get at the true roots of complex diseases.

"Brute force alone sequencing will not help," he said. "Technology is of finite resolution. You must have synthesis of physiology, cell biology, biochemistry and other fi
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Contact: Mary Jane Gore
mary.gore@duke.edu
919-660-1309
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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