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Children’s growth will be easier to gauge following research led by the University of Queensland, which analyzes genetic variants that affect growth.

Dr Loic Jenga and Professor Peter Vischer from UQ’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience worked with 600 researchers in the largest-ever genome-wide association study (GWAS).

The study analyzed data from 5.4 million people and identified 12,000 genetic variants that affect height.

“Eighty percent of the difference in height between people is determined by genetic factors,” said Dr. Yengo.

“The 12,000 variants we found explain 40 percent of the variation in height, meaning we’ve opened up the possibility of using DNA to predict height more accurately than ever before.

“Currently, the best way to predict a child’s growth is with help average height of the two of them biological parentsbut using this genomic data, pediatricians will be able to get a better estimate.

“It will reassure parents that children are growing as their genes predict, or it will lead to further medical investigation and help identify potential problems sooner.”

The findings can also be used in police investigations to predict growth from a suspect’s DNA sample at a crime scene.

“In smaller studies, the findings appeared to be scattered across the genome, but the huge sample size in this study means that for the first time we have seen a clustering of growth-related variants, particularly near genes involved in skeletal growth disorders,” said Dr. Yenga. .

Dr. Jenga said the study included more than a million people of non-European ancestry, which was higher than usual for a GWAS study.

“Despite this achievement, the data is still skewed towards people of European descent, which is a known problem in genetic research,” he said.

“There are growing initiatives around the world to collect more and more diverse genetic data because it is critical to extend the benefits of genetic research for all population groups.”

The team now plans to dive deeper to identify the rest genetic factors for height.

“These other factors will be harder to find because each has a smaller effect, and we may need at least 20 million samples to do this Herculean task,” said Dr Yengo.

The growth study also paves the way for research into other traits and diseases controlled by genes.

The study was conducted in collaboration with Professor Joel Hirschhorn of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Dr Andrew Wood of the University of Exeter; Professor Yukinori Okada of Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine and other researchers at The GIANT Consortium.

This research is published in Nature.

A DNA study of more than five million people shows a genetic link to height

Additional information:
Loïc Yengo, A Rich Map of Common Genetic Variants Associated with Human Growth, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05275-y.

Citation: Reaching New Heights in Largest Genome Study Ever (2022, October 12) Retrieved October 12, 2022, from

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