Greek scientists lead study revealing 83 new gene variants on height

2 February 2017
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Researchers have pinpointed 83 genetic variants that could affect the height of a person. The group, led by the distinguished Greek genetics professor Panos Deloukas of the Queen Mary University and William Harvey Research Institute, published their findings in ‘Nature” magazine. The study is the largest that had been conducted so far, with over 300 scientists from the international consortium of Genetic Investigation of Anthropomorphic Traits (GIANT). The team analysed DNA samples of over 710,000 people from different countries in an effort to shed light on the causes people vary in height with each other. It is a known that height depends on hereditary factors, children with taller parents tend to become tall, while the shorter parents have short children. Scientists had managed to detect almost 700 gene mutations that affected height variations of up to 1mm, but the new 83 gene variants account for larger height differences of of over 2cm. Scientists now believe that they are in the position to pinpoint over one fourth of hereditary-genetic factors that influence height. Professor Deloukas said the new genetic variants were rare for the population, adding that their impact on human height provided important new knowledge for the growth of the human skeleton. “Now we are in the position to start detecting similar genetic variants that could affect the risks of contracting common diseases like diabetes, cancer, schizophrenia and heart diseases”, he said. The presence of Greek professors in the study was noteworthy with Irene Marouli (Queen Mary University), who was the original author of the study, Stavroula Kanoni and Ioanna Dalla of the same institute and epidemiologist Photis Drenos of the University College of London, among others providing their expertise.

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