After 20 years of extensive research, researchers have finally revealed the most-awaited findings of the world’s largest gene study. Yes, you heard it right. This futuristic research study has been focused on exploring different complexities that affect a person’s height. Hence, an international team of researchers went to great lengths to elaborate on the causes with attention to detail by analyzing the DNA of more than five million people. Consequently, they got their hands on different 12,000 variants that play a crucial role in determining the height of an individual. Furthermore, the research has been published in the journal “Nature”.
Coupled with this, you would be amazed to know that this ambitious and critical research began in 2000 with the contribution of only one researcher at that time named Joel Hirschhorn, who hailed from the Broad Institute. He has a viewpoint that although genetics play a major role in anticipating the height of a person, the research proved that there are a lot of other genetic variants that also determine this characteristic and, in some cases, it becomes seemingly impossible to gather an extensive set of data and variables. It should be noted that researchers performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on mere 1,000 people, fifteen years ago due to the limited technology and in that era, this also seemed to be a daunting task.
However, currently, the researchers successfully conducted this GWAS study on approximately 5.4 million people through which they got to know about 12,111 different genetic variants. According to Hirschhorn, “Even the most optimistic among us didn’t think we’d get this big this fast. When it became apparent that GWAS would be possible, I used to make sure in every talk I said, ‘there’s no way we’re going to get enough information that this will add to what we can do clinically to predict adult height.’ But we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. So now I get the chance to prove myself wrong.”
In addition to this, the co-first author of the study Erin Marouli, said, “Genomic studies are revolutionary and might hold the key to solving many global health challenges – their potential is tremendously exciting. If we can map specific parts of the genome to certain traits, it opens the door to widespread targeted, personalized treatments further down the line that could benefit people everywhere.”
To that end, the team has identified the only limitation of the study and that is the lack of diversification. This is because if different samples have been taken from Europe, then the findings will only reveal the results as per the characteristics found in those people. Hence, the team suggests that there is a need to take a diverse range of samples from different regions of the world.