Tuesday January 22, 2019
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Genes Determining Hair Colour To Boost Cancer Research

Cancer research to be boosted up by genes that determine hair colour.

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DNA
New ML-tool uses DNA to predict height and cancer risk. Pixabay

An international team of scientists have identified 124 genes that play a major role in determining human hair colour variation, a finding that may pave way for better understanding of conditions linked to pigmentation like vitiligo and skin cancer.

The discovery sheds new light on our understanding of the genetic complexity underpinning variations in human pigmentation and could advance our knowledge of conditions linked to pigmentation, such as skin, testicular, prostate and ovarian cancers.

Out of the new 124 genes, more than 100 were not previously known to influence pigmentation, the study showed.

Cancer word on newspaper
Cancer. Pixabay

“The genetic study on pigmentation will improve our understanding of diseases like melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer,” said lead author Tim Spector, Professor at King’s College London.

Moreover, the findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, are also relevant for forensic sciences, the researchers said.

“Finding these new hair colour genes is also important for further increasing the accuracy of hair colour prediction from DNA traces in future forensic applications, which can help to find unknown perpetrators of crime,” explained co-lead author Manfred Kayser Professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in Netherlands.

Also Read: Nine new osteoarthritis genes discovered

For the study, the team analysed DNA data from almost 300,000 people of European descent, together with their self-reported hair colour information.

The results showed that, when it comes to European ancestry, nature prefers blonde women and brunette men.

“We found that women have significantly fairer hair than men, which reflects how important cultural practices and sexual preferences are in shaping our genes and biology,” Spector said.  IANS

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Study Reveals That Genes Affect Where Fat is Stored in our Bodies

The result of the current study may therefore lead to the development of new interventions to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

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The heart attack brings about activation of certain genes which stay as a permanent memory in genes. Pixabay

Researchers have found that whether you store your fat around the trunk or in other parts of your body is highly influenced by genetic factors.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, also reported that this effect is present predominantly in women and to a much lower extent in men.

“We know that women and men tend to store fat differently – women have the ability to more easily store fat on the hips and legs, while men tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen to a higher extent,” said lead author Mathias Rask-Andersen from Uppsala University in Sweden.

“This has been attributed to the effects of sex hormones such as estrogen. But the molecular mechanisms that control this phenomenon are fairly unknown,” Rask-Andersen added.

For the study, the researchers measured how fat was distributed in nearly 360,000 voluntary participants. The participants gave blood samples for genotyping and the distribution of fat tissue was estimated using impedance measurements, i.e. measurements of electrical resistance when an electrical current is fed through the body.

In the study, millions of genetic variants across the genome were tested for association with distribution of fat to the arms, legs or trunk, and the research team identified nearly a hundred genes that affect distribution of adipose tissue to the different compartments of the human body.

Representational image.

The researchers also saw a high degree of heterogeneity between sexes.

The findings suggest that remodelling of the extracellular matrix is one of the mechanisms that generates differences in body fat distribution, the researchers said.

Fat stored in the trunk has previously been associated with increased disease risk. Men have a greater amount of abdominal fat than women and this may explain the increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease observed in males.

Epidemiological studies have even shown that the ability to store fat around the hips and legs gives women some protection against cardiovascular disease.

Also Read- Samsung Unveils its Latest Processor For Mid-ranged Smartphones in India

The result of the current study may therefore lead to the development of new interventions to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

“The biological systems we highlight in our study have the potential to be used as points-of-intervention for new drugs that are aimed at improving the distribution of body fat and thereby reducing the risk of disease,” Mathias Rask-Andersen noted. (IANS)