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Cell Biology

Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS)

This is a new non-biased way to look for genetic information.

Your genome consists of the entire list of DNA nucleotides in each cell of your body. When we consider an entire human population, we known that there are important differences between DNA sequences of healthy people and those affected by various diseases. To further study this issue, scientists use supercomputers to scan large data bases of genomes in search for specific differences between healthy people and those with various disease conditions. Naturally scientists have no preconceived notions of what they will find. The interesting thing is that in many cases, markers for specific diseases appear to be located in non-coding DNA (formerly considered to be junk DNA). This was another nail in the coffin of junk DNA. If it were really not doing something important, it would not be connected to disease conditions.

Related Terms

  • Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)
  • ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements)