9/21/2007

Computer Program Traces Ancestry Using Anonymous DNA Samples

quote:
A group of computer scientists, mathematicians, and biologists from around the world have developed a computer algorithm that can help trace the genetic ancestry of thousands of individuals in minutes, without any prior knowledge of their background. The team’s findings will be published in the September 2007 edition of the journal PLoS Genetics.

Unlike previous computer programs of its kind that require prior knowledge of an individual’s ancestry and background, this new algorithm looks for specific DNA markers known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs (pronounced snips), and needs nothing more than a DNA sample in the form of a simple cheek swab. The researchers used genetic data from previous studies to perform and confirm their research, including the new HapMap database, which is working to uncover and map variations in the human genome.

said Petros Drineas, the senior author of the study and assistant professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “The program will be a valuable tool for understanding our genetic ancestry and targeting drugs and other medical treatments because it might be possible that these can affect people of different ancestry in very different ways.”

Although the human genome is 99 percent the same from human to human, it is that 1 percent that can have a major impact on our response to diseases, viruses, medications, and toxins. If researchers can uncover the minute genetic details that set each of us apart, biomedical research and treatments can be better customized for each individual, Drineas said.





Newswise Science News | Computer Program Traces Ancestry Using Anonymous DNA Samples

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