Friday, June 29, 2007

Genetics in the news, 3 studies

1. Human migration traced by mutations in maternal genes

From wired:

Researchers collected mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, from nearly 80,000 people, who received a report on how their ancestors came to live where they live.
[They gathered this information into a database, called The Genographic Project].

The database is the tip of the iceberg for a burgeoning field of science called genetic anthropology, which involves combining DNA data with physical evidence and histories of past civilizations. The database contains more samples than in any previous collection of its kind. As scientists study it further, they expect a detailed history of human migration in Europe will emerge.

This database and publication is freely available at PLoS (a peer-reviewed open-access journal published by the Public Library of Science) today.

2. Alcohol abuse risk is genetic
From physorg:
According to a study by the research group "Alcoholism and drug addiction", of the University of Granada (Universidad de Granada), although there are no specific reasons to become an alcoholic, many social, family, environmental, and genetic factors may contribute to its development. Thanks to this study, researchers have shown that the lack of endorphin is hereditary, and thus that there is a genetic predisposition to become addicted to alcohol.
They found that beta-endorphin levels of chronic alcoholics is lower than that of the general population. They determined that low beta-endorphin levels are associated with higher likelihood of alcohol addiction, and that the beta-endorphin levels are pre-set by birth.

3. Breast cancer development and prognosis is genetic
Also from physorg:
The chances of developing breast cancer are to some extent inherited, but important new findings suggest survival also runs in the family. Research published in the online journal Breast Cancer Research suggests that if a woman succumbs to breast cancer her daughters or sisters are over 60 percent more likely to die within five years if they develop the disease.

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