JACKSON, Miss. A group of researchers from the University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School and the University of Mississippi Medical Center has constructed the world's most detailed genetic map, a tool scientists can use to better understand the roots of disease and how DNA is passed generationally to create diversity in the human species.
About 5,000 Jackson-area volunteers were included in a group of nearly 30,000 African-Americans whose genetic information the scientists used to create the map.
The map pinpoints genome locations where people splice together DNA from their mothers and fathers to produce sperm or eggs. That process, known as recombination, mixes DNA from the person's parents and passes it on to his or her children.
Almost every prior genetic map was developed in people of European ancestry. The new map is the first built in African-Americans.
"The world's best genetic map is now built in African-Americans," said David Reich, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, who co-led the study with Simon Myers, a lecturer in statistics at the University of Oxford. "This map, built in 30,000 African-Americans who are from studies of heart disease and cancer, has a resolution so high it is now the world's most accurate map."
The findings will be published in the July 21 edition of Nature.
Dr. James Wilson, UMMC professor of medicine and the study's coordinator, said the map holds promise for both broad, genome-wide applications and narrowly focused, single-disease research.
"The map will be helpful in finding the genetic roots of any disease that's affected by inheritance which is virtually every disease," he said.
For example, studies have shown certain diseases, such as hypertension, affect African-Americans at greater rates than whites, even with other variables like age, weight and socioeconomic level accounted for. The map could be used to better understand wh
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University of Mississippi Medical Center