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Dartmouth researcher finds novel genetic patterns that make us rethink biology and individuality
Date:11/7/2013

multiple individuals at different ages." Williams concurs, saying, "Clearly these do accumulate with age, but how and why is unknownand needs to be determined."

As more and better data become available from high-throughput genetic analyses and high-powered computers, researchers are identifying an increasing number of medical conditions that result from somatic mutations, including neurological, hematological, and immune-related disorders. Williams and colleagues are conducting further research to examine how diseases, other than cancer or even benign conditions, may result from somatic changes.5 Williams, Moore and Amos will employ iQBS's Discovery supercomputer for next-generation sequencing to process subjects' DNA data.6 Future analyses will include large, whole-genome sequencing of the data for the two individuals studied in the current report.

Williams explains, "We know that cancer is caused by mutations that cause a tumor. But in this work, we chose to study mutations in people without any cancer. Knowing how we accumulate mutations may make it easier to separate genetic signals that may cause cancer from those that accumulate normally without affecting disease. It may also allow us to see that many changes that we thought caused cancer do not in many situations, if we find the same mutations in normal tissues."

Just as our bodies' immune systems have evolved to fight disease, interestingly, they can also stave off the effects of some genetic mutations. Williams states that, "Most genetic changes don't cause disease, and if they did, we'd be in big trouble. Fortunately, it appears our systems filter a lot of that out."

Mark Israel, MD, Director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center and Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics at Geisel, says, "The fact that somatic mutation occurs in mitochondrial DNA apparently non-randomly provides a new working hypothesis for the rest of the genome. If this non-randomness i
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Contact: Derik Hertel
derik.hertel@dartmouth.edu
603-650-1203
The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Source:Eurekalert

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