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Published on : Oct 15, 2018

Genes have always played a crucial role in formation of an individual’s body, personality, appearance, and are capable of healing from various diseases. But to measure and examine 3.2 billion positions on the human genome is a difficult task. However, a recent study published in the journal Nature gives a glimpse as how a deeper understanding of our genes can transform the healthcare in the near future.

The papers are based on the data sets recorded by the UK Biobank, in which the records contain genetic information, lifestyle information, body measurements, and samples of urine, blood, and saliva, from half a million volunteers, between the age of 40 and 69 years. The researchers took 800,000 genetic markers from the volunteer’s DNA rather than considering all parts of human genome. This was done with the help of statistical data known as genotype imputation that fills the blank. This method compares the Biobank data to a more detailed dataset and covers the gaps based on the most likely probability.

At the University of Oxford took smaller of the two studies that was a collaboration between neuroimaging, statistics, and genetic researchers. In this, they compared Biobank’s gene data to 10,000 MRI scans volunteers’ brains, and looking for links between the genes and specific features in the brain. Of these, around 150 individuals showed a clear relationship. One of the most prominent was genes linked to the repairing and structuring of white matter in the brain that showed strokes, multiple sclerosis, and motor neurone disease. In addition, another group of genes was linked to iron deposits in the brain linked with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.  As the aim of the UK Biobank is to combat serious diseases, mainly related to old age, the updating records will prove or disapprove researchers’ theories on which genes affect what type of conditions.