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What are genome-wide association studies?
Genome-wide association studies are a relatively new way for scientists to identify genes involved in human disease. This method searches the genome for small variations, called single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs (pronounced “snips”), that occur more frequently in people with a particular disease than in people without the disease. Each study can look at hundreds or thousands of SNPs at the same time. Researchers use data from this type of study to pinpoint genes that may contribute to a person’s risk of developing a certain disease.
Because genome-wide association studies examine SNPs across the genome, they represent a promising way to study complex, common diseases in which many genetic variations contribute to a person’s risk. This approach has already identified SNPs related to several complex conditions including diabetes, heart abnormalities, Parkinson disease, and Crohn disease. Researchers hope that future genome-wide association studies will identify more SNPs associated with chronic diseases, as well as variations that affect a person’s response to certain drugs and influence interactions between a person’s genes and the environment.
For more information about genome-wide association studies:
The National Human Genome Research Institute provides a detailed explanation of genome-wide association
Nature Education’s Scitable provides an explanation of genome-wide association studies and how they assist in estimating the
Genomics Unzipped explains how to read a genome-wide association
You can also search for clinical trials of genome-wide association studies online.
For people interested in more technical information, the NCBI’s Database of Genotype and Phenotype