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Testicular tumors may explain why some diseases are more common in children of older fathers
Date:10/25/2009

nt. These include achondroplasia and Apert, Noonan and Costello syndromes, as well as some conditions causing stillbirth. The research links these conditions to a single pathway controlling cell multiplication, and will be valuable to doctors explaining to parents why the disorder has arisen, and informing them about the risks of it occurring again: in most cases, future children are unlikely to be affected.

The findings may also help explain one of the mysteries of genetics: why scientists have yet to account for much of the genetic component of common diseases. Common diseases tend to be caused by the interaction of many genes, but despite powerful genome-wide association scans to search for these genes, relatively few have been uncovered. Several of these diseases, including breast cancer, autism and schizophrenia, seem to be more frequent in the offspring of older fathers, but the reasons are unknown. Professor Wilkie suggests that similar but milder mutations might contribute to these diseases.

"What we have seen so far may just be the tip of a large iceberg of mildly harmful mutations being introduced into our genome," he explains. "These mutations would be too weak and too rare to be picked up by our current technology, but their sheer number would have a cumulative effect, leading to disease."

Further research is needed to find other genes that are affected by this process. However, DNA sequencing technology has recently undergone a step change in capacity, enabling more sequence to be obtained in one day than was possible in a whole year just a decade ago. As the sequencing data emerge over the next decade, we should discover just how vulnerable we are to men's selfish mutation factories.


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

Page: 1 2

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