More than two dozen genes have been linked to a range of diseases, including cancer, and the results may help us understand how they’re related, new research suggests.
Key points:The new study says there’s evidence that some genes can be linked to some disease, but that the results can be interpreted differently by researchersGenes can be shared between parents, siblings and distant relatives, but not shared across generationsGene discovery is not new, but until now, no one had studied whether genes were shared across genetic lineagesGenes are shared between siblings, cousins and distant family membersGene discovery was once seen as a mystery until scientists discovered how genes could be linked.
Now, scientists have identified more than two hundred genes and pathways linked to different diseases.
“There is an ongoing debate about what genes are shared among our genetic lineups, what are the genes shared by close relatives and how are they associated with disease,” Dr Helen Fiske from the University of Oxford’s Department of Genetics told ABC News.
“This is the first large-scale systematic analysis of the relationship between genes and disease.”
Dr Fiskel said the new work was the first to include a large number of genes in one analysis, meaning there was a more complete picture of the genes’ functions.
“Genes were identified and mapped to understand what they do and why they are linked to disease,” she said.
“We found that the genes that are more common in diseases than the other genes we looked at were more likely to be involved in the development of cancers and that the gene that was associated with most cancer was related to the cancer.”
She said more research was needed to determine if there was evidence that genetic variations were associated with diseases, but “there is evidence that there are genetic differences in how diseases are diagnosed”.
“We think there are genes that predispose to certain diseases, such as diabetes, and we also know that there is genetic variation in the risk of certain cancers.
So it is a very large number that can be used to explain what is going on with disease.”‘
The new world’Dr Feske said the work showed there were “very strong and strong associations” between genes shared across gene family trees.
“It is now clear that the new world is not so much a new disease but a new world of genes,” she told ABC.
“These findings provide a powerful new tool for understanding disease and how it develops, so it is important to think of this as a new field of science.”
Topics:health,health-policy,genetics,genomics-and-behavior,diseases-and/or-disorders,cancer,biotech-informatics,research,biol-science,australiaContact Helen FeskelMore stories from Australia