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Scientists describe new approach for identifying genetic markers for common diseases
Date:10/28/2010

La Jolla, CA, October 28, 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 diseasesparticular 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 identifyi
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.ecu
858-784-2050
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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