Global Genome Effort Seeks Genetic Roots of Disease
By decoding the genomes of more than 1,000 people whose homelands stretch from Africa and Asia to Europe and the Americas, scientists have compiled the largest and most detailed catalog yet of human genetic variation. The massive resource will help medical researchers find the genetic roots of rare and common diseases in populations worldwide.
The 1000 Genomes Project involved some 200 scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and other institutions. Results detailing the DNA variations of individuals from 14 ethnic groups are published Oct. 31 in the journal Nature. Eventually, the initiative will involve 2,500 individuals from 26 populations.
“With this resource, researchers have a roadmap to search for the genetic origins of diseases in populations around the globe,” says one of the study’s co-principal investigators, Elaine Mardis, PhD, co-director of The Genome Institute at Washington University. “We estimate that each person carries up to several hundred rare DNA variants that could potentially contribute to disease. Now, scientists can investigate how detrimental particular rare variants are in different ethnic groups.”