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Largest Ever Study of Genetics Behind Common Diseases Published

The largest ever study of the genetics behind common diseaseslike diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and coronary heart diseasehas been published in the journals Nature and Nature Genetics.

The nine-million-pound Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium is one of the UKs largest and most successful academic collaborations to date, which brought together 50 leading research groups and 200 scientists in the field of human genetics from dozens of institutions in the country.

Over two years, they examined DNA samples from 17,000 people across the UK, and analysed almost 10 billion pieces of genetic information.

"Many of the most common diseases are very complex, part 'nature' and 'nurture', with genes interacting with our environment and lifestyles," says Professor Peter Donnelly, Chair of the Consortium, who is based at the University of Oxford.

"By identifying the genes underlying these conditions, our study should enable scientists to understand better how disease occurs, which people are most at risk and, in time, to produce more effective, more personalized treatments," he adds.

The study has substantially increased the number of genes known to play a role in the development of some of the most common diseases. Many genes were found in areas of the genome that were not previously thought to have been related to the diseases.

"Just a few years ago it would have been thought wildly optimistic that it would be possible in the near future to study a thousand genetic variants in each of a thousand people. What has been achieved in this research is the analysis of half a million genetic variants in each of seventeen thousand individuals, with the discovery of more than ten genes that predispose to common diseases," says Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, the UK's largest medical research charity, which funded the study.

"This research shows that it is possible
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