All genes great and small

14 February 2017

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An international collaboration of researchers has discovered 83 new genetic variations linked to human height, according to a paper published in the journal Nature. So far 700 genetic variations have been found that affect height, and these new discoveries add yet more information to the picture. The new findings come from the appropriately named GIANT study, or Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits, involving more than 700,000 people.

The GIANT team previously used a technique called GWAS, or genome-wide association study, to link genetic variations at single DNA letters, called SNPs to height. In this study, they’ve turned to a more in-depth genetic analysis technique called exome sequencing - which looks at the whole DNA sequence of genes rather than snapshots of single letters - to find rare variations linked to height, which are found in less than 5 per cent of the population.

The study is an important proof of principle that this more detailed method can find new and rare genetic variations, as well as revealing the genetic pathways that help to control height.

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